Five Takeaways from Namaste November 2019

And How it Will Help Shape 2020!

Written by Danika Desforges-Bell, M.Sc. Ps. ed.

Same but Different!

Our yearly tradition of attending the Namaste November Yoga Retreat is in its third year. Same incredible yogi Lee guiding us, same incredible accommodations at the Drake Devonshire Inn, and same quaint town of Wellington in Prince-Edward County. Many similarities yet every year brings small shifts and differences: new group, different yoga styles, different hotel room, different weather, and different mood. It seems like a perfect reflection of ourselves, always a little bit the same but also a little bit different, always hoping to get closer to our full potential and becoming the person we know we can be. The end of the retreat is a good time to take a step back and reflect on my takeaways for this year and reflect on how I have evolved in hopes of getting closer to the person I am meant to be.

1. I love… ME!

Lee is guiding us through a powerful meditation at the retreat and tears are already flowing: “Visualize yourself in a room filled with mirrors. Approach the first mirror and look at your reflection. Tell yourself I love you. Let your reflection say it back, I love you.”  Although I like myself, I am not sure if I LOVE all parts of myself. It got me thinking to all the times I easily say I love you to everyone, yet when it comes to telling myself that I love myself, full-heartedly and with no conditions or restraints, it was very emotional and difficult. I do hope to come back next year with more love in my heart for myself.


2. Visualizing the life I want

Lee is guiding us through another powerful meditation, visualizing and imagining the future we desire and associating that visualization to an intention (a few words that resonate and represent that desired future life). She explains that it helps plant the seed to it becoming a reality. That got me thinking. A few studies (LUPIEN, 2010) have shown that taking the time to jot down possible solutions to a problem can diminish stress levels and develop key problem-solving skills. Could this be the same idea? If we take the time to truly visualize the life WE desire based on OUR core values without being influenced by other’s desires, needs or wants from us, we can guide ourselves to a future that gets us closer to our full potential. Deep thoughts yet somehow strangely reassuring.

3. The joy of sisterhood

Laughter and play. Can those be considered core values? There is nothing like an evening, a day, an hour or a weekend of fun and giggles with loved ones. It feels soooo good to take the time to incorporate them into our daily life. One of my favourite parts about the yoga retreat is spending some quality time with my CLV sisters (Sofie and Lyne) and this year, my best friend from Montreal. Taking the time to connect with them, laugh together, hold hands during a shavasana, or read next to one another in the beautiful fall sun, fills me with such joy and gratitude. It reminds me how important it is to simply feel connected to one another.

4. Learning to listen, really listen

Lee begins another yoga class by exhausting our senses (closing our eyes, lying in stillness, identifying the sounds outside the building, the ones outside the room, the ones in the room and focusing on the sound of our breath and beating heart). It can sometimes be difficult to focus on sounds that are further away or out of our reach and this practice sometimes triggered irritation and frustration for me. But this year, I saw it differently. It reminded me how difficult it can be to drown out noise to really focus on what’s important and actively listen to someone who might be communicating an important message through verbal or non-verbal cues. We spend our days drowning out our environment by playing loud music or by constantly staying productive. How about taking a step back and truly connecting with our surroundings? It is such a relief and a beautiful way to take in what’s happening on the inside instead of avoiding it. It reminded me of why I love yoga so much: getting comfortable with the discomfort to truly break through the noise!

5. Giving myself a break

Easier said then done, right? As someone who has 2 careers, a busy family and social life, as well as many other personal projects and goals, it is often difficult to find the time to stop or do a little self-care. That being said, I often come out of Namaste November realizing that although this is a great reset, it’s also a great opportunity to bring in some more playfulness, me-time, laughter and meditation-yoga practice into my day-to-day life. The reason I return year after year is because of the magical spirit this retreat has but I now realize that it’s important to incorporate that magic a little bit each and every day. I’m still trying to figure that part out but I am sure my CLV tribe will remind me of ways or simple practices to bring a little breath and play into my busy life!


What about those 10 words at the beginning of this blog post? These were words that each member of the retreat wrote about me on a heart-shaped piece of paper, including one I wrote for myself. These were added to a special envelope for me to open later. It’s amazing how all these kinds words rarely come up in my conversations with myself but every year, I look forward to reading through some of the qualities other see in me that I don’t always see in myself. They help me heal. They help me grow. They help me love. They help me find some self-compassion during some hard times. I keep these kind words nearby and use them as grounding reminders of who I am and what I am capable of.

I am already looking forward to next year when everything will be the same but a little different…and hopefully so will I!

LUPIEN, Sonia. Par amour du stress, Montréal:Éditions au Carré. 2010.