You heard it here first. Arkansas has great yoga! At least in Matt and Holly! Yes, I went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina by way of Arkansas. Some might say not my wisest of directional choices, but I was delivering precious cargo! My dear friend Kenzie and her friend (my new friend!) Olivia are spending the month of June living at the Circle Yoga Shala and furthering their yoga practices in exchange for work around the organic farm. Their time started with The Ozark Mountains Yoga Festival at the shala so I decided to drive them, attend the festival and they will fly back to Ohio at the end of their time.
I’ve spent more time in Arkansas this summer than I ever anticipated haha The forests and mountains feel dense like a rainforest making for such fun camping! Shala means school in Sanskrit, the ancient language of yoga and yoga schools are something the world could use more of. To quote their website,
“The school is also a living farm, an approved farm with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms Organization. The property consists of approximately 1/2 acre organic vegetable gardens, flower and herb gardens, an orchard, chickens and horses. WWOOFers have access to yoga classes and philosophy discussions as available, if desired. We focus on sustainability practices, including composting. Life here is a living example of the inter-connectedness of all things.”
The simplicity of waking up in a tent, hearing nothing but the rustling of each leaf in the trees translates so easily to your mat and encourages a practice that (while we love them) makes the hot room, cute yoga tank and fancy water feel SO unnecessary. Your mat and your body feel more like enough. Even more than enough. That feeling alone is worth attending a yoga festival or work exchange like they offer at the shala. Full immersion is such an effective way to find real growth and permanent habit changes in yoga and your spiritual practice just as with everything in life. I tend to recreate full immersion with travel versus only spending a few days and I wouldn’t have it any other way. To work, volunteer, live among locals builds real, lasting relationships.
I will not lie, the 20 hour drive from the mountains of Arkansas to the sandbar in the Atlantic that is the OBX was very long; Tennessee is such a terribly long state east to west! One thing I did enjoy was getting to finally stop and walk through downtown Asheville. Part of my summer on the road has been looking for the city I might want to make my next home, even if it’s temporary, and Asheville has been highly recommended by many of my nearest and dearest. Some things I loved include the size (big town/small city), the focus on local and organic food, independent businesses and mountains. Those are top of the list for me as I look.
We’re in to the second week at the OBX and I’m back from my vacation within a vacation (hopefully that’s a more common thing in my life in the future!) with some of my best friends in the world, but the slowness, subtlety and return to nature feeling Circle Yoga Shala embodies stuck. I hope it always does.