You’ve probably heard it before, or at least seen it written in beautiful text on Instagram, your vibe attracts your tribe. Although I agree with this statement, I like to take it one step further and say that although your vibe attracts your tribe, the experiences you share create a lasting tribe-and one step further friendships. When I first began practicing yoga as a young teen I was really focused on this idea of attracting my tribe, I wanted to create a strong community and have like minded yogis that I knew and surrounded myself with. I wanted to have people that enjoyed what I enjoyed and have people to talk about all things yoga and truly connect. I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I had was a tribe, but what I was looking for was a friend. I was surrounded by yogis, but I didn’t feel bonded to them, I didn’t have that close friendship that I was yearning for. But then I did my first yoga teacher training and that all changed.
I quickly learned that the fastest way to make friends is to do something new and out of your comfort zone with them and at the time nothing was more out of my comfort zone than enrolling in my first YTT just days after I graduated college. I had felt this strong pull to dive deeper, to learn more, and maybe one day be someone that inspires others from the mat in front of the room, and not just as a student. So when I walked in on my first day feeling nervous and apprehensive I had no idea that some of these people would be my first true yoga friends.
Over the summer that we trained together, pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone, taught yoga for the first time together, and dug deeper into ourselves that we ever had before we created a bond that was deeper than anything I had known in the yoga community. There is something about making yourself vulnerable in front of others, and sharing such a challenging, emotional, and transformational experience that created friendships that lasted well past the completion of the course. That group of women quickly became my biggest cheerleaders as we all went and started our teaching journey. That feeling of deep connection, and support that I experienced during this time was something that impacted me so deeply that I knew it was something that I wanted to recreate when I was teaching.
Several years later, I found the missing ingredient for life-long yoga friendships. Travel. When I decided it was time to take my second yoga teacher training, I knew that I wanted to take an even greater adventure than before and I decided to do an intensive training over the course of 5 weeks in Bali. I was terrified. I had never been this far away from home on my own, I was studying styles that I wasn’t as familiar with and I didn’t know anyone, but again I felt the pull to do it and I did.
Not only did I get that same feeling of deep connection by working with such an incredible group of women and dug deep, revealing the most vulnerable parts of me, but there was the added layer of being in Bali with them. We explored during our time off, we just sat in the yoga shala in the middle of the jungle to practice meditation together, we were students, but also tourists together. Where the friendships I formed during my first teacher training were deep, these were deeper. In fact, just as I was writing these words I’ve had to pause twice because I got messages from some of the friends I made on this trip, which happened over 4 years ago.
It was this first experience of traveling to a completely unknown place alone, having this experience and cracking myself open through the practice of yoga in the presence of this tribe that helped to bond us together and inspired me to start offering international yoga retreats for my students. After experiencing the magic of how close people could get by sharing a love of yoga and exploring a new place I knew that other people had to know this feeling too.
Over the past 3 years I have begun offering what has become not just one of the biggest parts of my business but also one of the biggest parts of my heart- international yoga retreats. Having the opportunity to bring groups of women that didn’t know each other at the beginning of the week and leave with friendships that span years and several continents is something that I never get tired of. It is nothing short of magic. When people get together, step out of their comfort zones and explore the new and mysterious together they aren’t just attracting their tribe, they are creating their tribe, and building the strong foundation for lasting friendships.
I personally have been lucky enough to meet the person that I call my yoga soulmate from this experience as she helped me design and coordinate my first Icelandic retreat, and has remained one of my closest friends to date. From the minute we met each other as strangers in the Reykjavik airport to the phone call we had today while I walked outside to get some exercise, I know that this person knows me better than anyone else and that only happened because we both had the courage to step out into the unknown together.
The most common question, well honestly it’s not a question but a fear posed as a question, that I get about retreats from potential attendees is what if they don’t like anyone else on the retreat or they feel alone. I can honestly answer this question every time with a resounding “that won’t happen.” And it never does. When you join a group of people that also love yoga, meditation, and have a desire to take a travel adventure together it will connect you with those souls so deeply that you will giggle at the thought you were worried you wouldn’t connect with anyone.
So if you’ve been wanting to attract your tribe, connect deeper, or make a new friend that shares your love for yoga, why not do something new. Step out of your comfort zone, take a training, go on a retreat, take the leap and step into an adventure with other beautiful souls and you might get a whole lot more than just a relaxing vacation or a certificate- you might leave with a new best friend.
*To learn more about Kelly Smith and her International Yoga Retreats Click Here.