Searching for Stoke in Pt. Reyes
by Molly Haight
You know a retreat has really begun when your cell phone loses service. In this case, mine lost service 30-minutes before reaching my final destination. After the panic of getting lost and not having service for two whole days wore off, I gave in; accepting that you have no phone or internet is the first step of reIaxing on a retreat, and the quicker the relaxing starts, the better.
Pt. Reyes Hostel is a hostel, yes. There are bunk beds and shared areas and there were a few Canadians and some French folks staying there too, riding bikes during the day and cooking alongside us at night. But Pt. Reyes Hostel is this beautiful secluded retreat, unlike any other hostel I have been too. It feels like grandma’s house, a cabin in Aspen, and that friend’s apartment I stayed at in Portugal once all blended into one. There is no cell phone service or internet, books line the walls and the couches are the most perfect napping couches. It is the most easeful escape from reality in one of the most beautiful places in Northern California.
The hostel was just a small part of what made the weekend so magical. Day one started with an eight mile run led by Dylan Bowman. He took us from the rolling hills, to the coast and back down through lush green woods. Dylan is a super star, literally, but he is so grounded and laid back and everything you’d want someone who runs 100 miles for fun to be. Eight miles flies by when you spend each mile making new friends and gazing in awe at the Pacific Ocean, exploring new trails felt like luxury and a much needed reminder as to why I call this place home.
The weekend only got better from there because there was Jason Bowman to teach us yoga and Zak Noles to fill our bellies. Yoga at sunset is so appropriate because that is the way the original yogis intended it to be. What better way to wind down a run and a day then through moving meditation with Jason. Jason has an ability to help take you out of your head and into your body in a way that I envy and cherish. I started class feeling tired and tight from the run, and left feeling whole and free and full of gratitude – a transformation that never gets old.
As if running and yoga and delicious food weren’t enough, our first day ended with a trip to a beach. The biggest and most beautiful beach on the night of a new moon. The sky was practically pitch black aside from the thousands of stars that covered it. The sand and the sea even reflected the stars. If you paid attention you could find bioluminescence in the water and in the sand, like little stars sparkling when you hit the sand or churning with the waves as they crashed. I do not know how nature could have been more magical than in that moment.
Our final day started with a morning meditation with Jason; a good reminder to turn in and remain quiet before getting wrapped up in the excitement of being away on a new adventure. The whole day became a chance to explore the parallels between running and yoga, how unique each one is in their physicality but how similar they are in their mental challenges and processes. At some point, both yoga and running become less about the physical shapes and abilities of our body and more about the mental states we reach. Both become this game that pushes us beyond our limits into a deeper mental state, allowing us to see the processes that our minds undergo.
I seek out people who have recognized the connection between running and yoga or who have realized that it’s about more than PR’s and yoga butts. I look for people who are chasing after the same feelings in life that I am. People that are always hungry for more and ready for adventure at any moment. Luckily, any time I run or practice yoga I am likely to find at least one person who shares this same thirst for life as me. This retreat was full of 18 of those people. I left our short weekend feeling especially grateful for this life, my healthy body that allows me the capacity to do yoga and run on a regular basis, and for the people who keep finding their way into my life to challenge and inspire me.