This is an interview I did recently with my dear friend and board member of the Feathered Pipe Foundation, Clint Willis. It will appear on the Feathered Pipe website later in July, but I wanted to go ahead and share it here, so you can get a feel for what my teaching style is like and what to expect from our August 18-25 retreat, which I’d love to have you be a part of.
Carie Garrett will lead her second Feathered Pipe retreat, Be the Real You: The Art of Self Trust, August 18-25 in Helena, Montana. She recently spoke with us about how she’ll work with yogis to foster inner listening, courage, and self-trust. It’s going to be an amazing week of community, love, healing, sharing and growth.
FP: What’s at the core of your approach to teaching yoga?
Carie: My approach to teaching yoga revolves around themes of heart-centered vulnerability, authenticity, and creativity. I’m interested in being the place where I’m living a guided-from-within life, saying “yes” to Creation flowing through me in all that I do and all that I say, bravely being the real me and letting myself be seen. I’m highly inspired by the work of Brene Brown, author and shame researcher at the University of Houston. Her research has shown that vulnerability, which she defines as risk, uncertainty, and emotional exposure, is the birthplace of creativity. So, learning to relax into the state of not having everything figured out, being willing to fail, and just being real is so important in living a creative, inwardly guided life. When we trust ourselves enough to bravely be who we are and let ourselves be seen, something really powerful and transformative happens which is healing for us, personally, and actually for the whole world, collectively. The world is in need of our gifts and what each of us has to offer.
FP: Facing our vulnerability can be challenging!
Carie: Right, most of us don’t like the feeling of uncertainty and exposure. I like to feel like I’m in control, I like to know what’s going to happen, and, man, that letting myself be seen thing is still very hard for me. It often feels so much easier to hide and stay small and try to protect myself in a made-up safety net. But that doesn’t serve myself or anyone else. You can’t squeeze any creative living out of that. It’s like kinking up the garden hose and wondering why the water won’t flow out. The tendency is to think that other people, especially the teacher, have it all figured out; that he or she never struggles or has issues. But we all struggle. We’re all trying to make sense of this trip of a thing called life on planet Earth. It’s a wild ride!
FP: How can Freedom Yoga help?
Freedom yoga is a highly creative practice. It teaches us to live in the place where we are present in the brand new Now moment, listening to The Infinite/Creation for our every move. We learn to relax into the space of uncertainty, of not having everything figured out, of not knowing how it’s gonna go. This is vulnerability. It’s the place of infinite possibilities. From there, we open ourselves to options and choices and bravely give
expression to the thing that’s feeling most right and keep following that wherever it leads
us. Doing this cultivates a huge sense of self-trust. Instead of looking to others to tell us what to do or reflect our truth to us, we’re powered up from within to be who we really are. The more we practice this in the microcosm of the mat, the more it translates into the macrocosm of life, such that Freedom Yoga becomes a way of life.
FP: How will the retreat foster that experience of showing up?
Carie: Just being at the ranch in general fosters this experience. Slowing way down and being held in a sacred place is such fertile ground for this work. Our sessions will build a strong sense of community and togetherness. This creates a foundational space of love and openness for us to begin to set down our pretenses and defenses. Letting go of tension, in all its forms is the key. Tension is the “tone killer,” as we will discover. Once we start to let go of the self-imposed grip, we come back into our tension-free, natural alignment. And when that happens, being who we really are is the inherent result. We’ll be exploring various themes of that through meditation, movement, and group discussions.
FP: There’s a fair amount of group discussion on your retreat.
Carie: Yes, it’s my favorite part! So much good stuff happens in these discussions. Somebody will ask a question or make a comment, which leads us off into an amazing learning adventure. These are always so powerful and mind-blowing. People often talk about their struggles, or how to apply these lessons to everyday life. The most important
part is the listening that takes place. One way to start letting go of tension is to shift into
listening mode–to be quiet and hear what others say. That experience of hearing and being heard is similar to the feeling of seeing and being seen, and opens doors for continued connection during the retreat: in the dining hall, out on the grass by the lake, walking up to the stupa. People go deep with each other. Lots of cool conversations happen.
FP: Spending a week with a bunch of other Freedom Yogis at the Ranch can definitely be a peak experience.
Carie: I’ve met some of my closest friends in the whole world over the past 15 years at Feathered Pipe Freedom Yoga retreats. If something goes down for me and I need support, these are the people I call. We share something sacred during the week. We take off masks and show up–totally, beautifully, and simply. The community is a huge part of the experience. But you can also be alone when you need that time–there are so many quiet corners of the ranch where you can recharge and just drink in the sheer beauty of the place.
We can’t wake up by ourselves. We need others to hold up the mirror for us–and we need to hold up the mirror for them. Everyone has to bring their gifts forward for community to function. In the class or retreat environment, we’re all there to help each other do that. This retreat is about that.
FP: What else can we tell folks about what to expect?
Carie: This can be a profoundly moving experience. When I’m on retreat at the Ranch, the real me comes to the surface. I can see it in the mirror. The lines in my face seem to fade as the deep layers of tension evaporate and my real face emerges. I’m like “Oh! There I am!” Everything starts to feel more vibrant and alive. I can just be myself, not worry about what anyone else thinks, as I drop into that sense of self-trust. It feels clean and buoyant and light, like I’m in the flow of universal river. I just let go of the oars and lie on my back, and let the current take me. It feels fearless.
I also want people to know that this will be a creative week, with a lot of different types of experience. We’ll meditate and do yoga and talk. The things we do on the mat will be easy and accessible to everyone. Some of it will be restorative, some of it will be freeform, and some will be guided. We’ll give ourselves permission to get out of the box and color outside the lines. We’ll also make some art and do some journaling. We’ll chant
and we will dance and we will come alive!
We’ll walk up to the ridge together and watch the sunset. We’ll laugh and we’ll cry…at least I will cry. It’s just such a beautiful, profoundly moving week for me that I’m always crying such good, healing tears. If you want to get back in touch with who you really are, deeply connect with Spirit and experience something different…this retreat could be a good one for you.
I would love nothing more than for you to join me for this healing and transformative week at The Feathered Pipe Ranch: Be the Real You: The Art of Self-Trust, August 18-25. Please let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to seeing you there!