Unprecedented openness

The day after the yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico ended I was so overwhelmingly happy that nearly anything could make me want to laugh or cry for joy. I found that as I walked anywhere, people's faces lit up as we saw each other and shared a smile. I went to a bookstore / coffee shop in Boston and found myself in several touching conversations with strangers. All in all, I was amazed at how differently people react to you when you are overjoyed at being exactly where you are at that moment. (I knew this in principle and in isolated moments but never for extended periods of time. Naturally, the question arises: how long could this way of being last? For the next 4 months of my travels? ...for the rest of my life? (grin)
Todd in lotus position near the Mayan ruins

The yoga retreat was led by my teacher of 7 years, David Vendetti, and included a group of 15 participants with anywhere from 2-25 years of yoga experience. Every day we meditated for an hour, had one to two 2h yoga practices, played in the ocean, had a class session (on pranayama, partnered massage, acroyoga), and shared all our vegitarian meals together.
David introduced a theme for each day.Be forwarned, these are powerful themes, and I can guarantee my descriptions will not do them justice.
Day 1 Freedom first: This means always seeing that you have the freedom to choose the way you want to be in the world. Putting anything else first will cause suffering to yourself and others. If you put money first you may sacrifice innate passions, family time, and health. If you put family first you may not take care of your own needs and desires. Choosing freedom does not mean independence, but ensures that in each relationship you always have a choice about how you want that relationship to be.
Day 2 Take responsibility for everything that has happened to you in your life: This means that you are fully empowered and that there is nothing in your life of which you are a victim. This DOES NOT mean that you are to blame, but simply that you acknowledge everything that has happened in your life and decide what you want to do about it.
Day 3 Act fearlessly and courageously, avoiding nothing: This one is currently my favorite theme and speaks for itself. Find what you are avoiding and practice addressing it gracefully. There will always be things that we are afraid of, but our ability to identify them and address them in a powerful and compassionate way will get stronger.
Day 4 Law of impersonality: Nothing happens to "you", things "happen in the universe" and you get to decide how you want to respond to it. All of us have caught ourselves thinking that the person ahead of us "cut us off" and that might encourage anger toward that person. But the truth is that cars cut off one another for many reasons all the time all over the world and that is another glorious truth of what it means to get to be a driver among other human drivers.
Day 5 Make these changes for the good of all beings: The idea of living by the first four themes often brings up defensiveness and anger, driven by fear. If you cannot make these changes in your life for yourself, make the changes for your family, for your friends, and for the benefit of all beings.

Every morning I woke up with the first hints of light and walked on the beach as the sun rose above the ocean. Then I would come back to where we were staying and follow the elevated, wooden-plank walkways of our tree house hotel into the yoga studio

The man who runs Jade (our tree-house hotel) was also a short film maker and has already posted a video of the yoga sessions The open air studio had high-vaulted, thatched ceilings and the classes that included locals from Tulum were magical.

Dorian, Todd, and Beth doing poses near the Mayan ruins we visited. Beth (in the splits) was a total inspiration to me. She is 64 and had one of the most beautiful and evolved practices of those of us at the retreat. She didn't start yoga until she was in her mid-forties. Any excuses about our bodies not being able to do things after a certain age are mostly not true...she was boogie boarding with me in huge waves for 90minutes!