Two weeks ago, I spent 5 days with Amy Ippoliti in La Paz, Mexico. Four of us went on a retreat with her and her boyfriend Taro Smith to a little strip of paradise in Baja California Sur. We practiced yoga twice a day, overlooking the ocean, ate meals together, meditated together, watched the sunsets, and listened to each other.
Four of us. That’s right. It was a completely unique, intimate, one-on-one, 5-day retreat to literally paradise with one of the sweetest yogis I’ve met. It was a beautiful experience.
And so is Amy, inside and out. I sought out her retreat because I’ve never seen Amy in any photo, interview, or training video without a smile on her face. If there’s a happy chromosome, Amy got them all. And she’s been a practicing yogi for over 30 years, teaching for 20. She knows her shit. I admire her, and I admire her knowledge, and I want to learn more from yoga teachers who have been around the block; those who are knowledgeable and grateful and eager to share.
As far as Taro goes, he’s just as fascinating – also a yoga teacher, and a marine conservationist, and has his PhD in integrative physiology, and is a professional photographer, and holy shit his photos. Holy shit. Out of this world. His passion for saving marine life is admirable and totally inspiring.
The two of them are this adorable, happy, interesting little team. I admire them profoundly. And I realized, while on this trip, something that I’ve known for a long time (how Dorothy is this getting right now, really?):
The answer is inside. We’re what we’re looking for. We are our own gurus, and our own teachers. We just need to look within.
Because here’s what Amy taught me: a whole lot, an incredible amount, because again, there were only 4 of us, over 5 days, studying with her. So we each got her undivided attention. I’ve never had that kind of attention on the mat before, and I guarantee you my practice and my teachings will be positively affected by it for life.
And what else did she teach me? That I’m right where I need to be. I don’t need to strive or want or worry that I’m not good enough. And really, she didn’t directly say these words to me. But my week away, alone, in Mexico, taught it to me. And she helped it come out, with her grace and patience and space.
One thing I didn’t do in Mexico is attend any of the group functions, other than dinner, and even then, I left early one night. Because I’m such an introvert. I can handle interaction for about an hour and then I’m totally spent. I can only chat for so long, or listen to stories for so long, without needing an unbelievably long break. I need a tremendous amount of time alone. And I got that in Mexico, I got what I needed: time to process.
Because we don’t get that in life. Especially not when you’re running a business, and dealing with grief, and learning a new skill, and trying to keep your house in order, and managing all of the other things that are constantly coming at us. It’s impossible. And here’s what happens in Mexico, or on any solo trip: you can disappear. In La Paz, you can hide in a book in a faraway place on a beach and you can take a shuttle alone to their downtown and stroll in and out of coffee shops, photographing remains of buildings and empty lots and all of the people, walking, strolling, skateboarding, just being. And aside from the other shuttle riders, you see no one you recognize. You can disappear, for at least a few hours.
And that is magic.
And so Amy, by default, taught me to trust myself. Taught me that we’re all the same. Taught me that I’m showing up. I’m making the best out of my situation in life.
And as far as yoga, she taught me more than I can process, still. Random little sentences she said and random little jokes she made pop up at me throughout my days. I’m incredibly thankful that I was given this opportunity, and I’m eager to learn more from her over the years.
Every morning, I drink matcha tea, and so does Amy, and we’re both so nutty that we travel with our teas because heaven forbid we have to drink sub-standard teas. So, I’ve been drinking extra cups of matcha after this trip, and trying out some new recipes; here’s my favorite.