A Conversation with Shannon MacLaggan
“To be able to slow down and feel Mama Natures embrace, thats life changing. And that a really beautiful thing to witness in your participants.”
Photo by Shannon MacLaggan, from her August 2017 retreat at Northern Edge Algonquin.
Last summer, fresh off the heels of hosting a wonderful retreat with Shannon & Pete of Anupaya and White Pine Yoga, Danielle took the opportunity to ask Shannon about her experience at the Edge. Here’s what she had to say:
On the Value of Retreats:
D: What are some of the little things that people (facilitators or participants) might not realize can come from hosting and/or taking part in a retreat weekend?
S: Stepping outside your comfort zone and building new relationships. Staying up late over a campfire. Long walks with people who no longer feel like strangers. The restorative benefits of leaving your phone in the car for a weekend and TRULY and totally feeling replenished. Slowly and throughly enjoying a meal made with love, rather than rushing through. Realizing that you don’t have to take care of anyone but yourself right now. Realizing that self care is actually just self responsibility and when we truly practice meet our own needs, we start to develop lifelong, unshakeable self trust.
D: What are some of the biggest challenges you have to be ready to overcome?
S: Personally, as a facilitator, its the imposter syndrome. Who the hell am I to host a retreat and teach these people anything meaningful? I tend to play really small in my mind and that can be deeply debilitating for me. So getting out of my head, into my body. Stopping the panic and worry and remember that we all have something to share. Just remembering to hold space like I know how to do. I just forget that from time to time.
D: In retrospect, what would you say are the three most positive aspects, as a facilitator, that you gain in hosting a retreat? How does this differ from a single class or seminar?
S: Hosting a retreat is a whole other ballgame. Classes and workshops are really wonderful, but in terms of connection and integration and relationship building, retreats are so, so rich in depth and intimacy.
Being in a studio all the time, which is INCREDIBLE, its also really missing a huge piece to the puzzle, one that is intimately intertwined to yoga, and that’s nature. To be able to slow down and feel Mama Natures embrace, thats life changing. And that a really beautiful thing to witness in your participants.
Everyone kinda leaves the retreat as ‘besties.’ Especially if there are a lot of optional activities, which I find many people participate in. People feel intimately connected: to themselves and each other and I believe that moves into their own lives back home. Just to remember to slow down and create meaningful relationships with others.
On Shannon’s Experience at the Edge:
D: Have you hosted retreats elsewhere? How would you say the Edge compares in terms of offering a place/canvas/resources to host the perfect retreat weekend?
S: We have hosted day long retreats at different locations in the Valley and weekend long ones at Calabogie Peaks for three years. I don’t think anywhere holds a candle to the Edge in terms of energy and community and peace. The space, the story, the fresh air. Everyone feels its magic.
D: Are there any particular lessons that you think you got out of working with the team here at the Edge?
S: I think that was one of my most favourite aspects of the whole experience – working with Tim. It was just SOOOO great having him there for the weekend. I felt so, so supported and taken care of and it took any feelings of unease or hesitation or doubt out of running a retreat. He was there. Gently, quietly, but present and all in. And I learned A LOT about leading. For me, I can feel insecure and introverted and it was SUCH a great reminder to simply show up for people. Exactly as I am, but be there for them in the best way I know how.
On choosing a Retreat Centre:
D: What did you, as a facilitator hope to get out of hosting a retreat, and what did you hope that your students would get out of it?
S: Just to unplug from all the busyness and deadlines and expectations and disappointments. To put down the phones and timetables and truly spend time with themselves and each other.
D: What led you to the Edge? What did you go searching for at the time and why? When was that?
S: I had been dreaming about going to the Edge for years and years. I drooled over the website and it just held this special place in my mind. Felt good. Felt real and unpretentious and wholesome and beautiful. The history of the Edge was particularly interesting to me and gave me some context and I felt like I kinda got to know it a little better. Which gave me a real sense of belonging and a strong need to get to know the place better.
D: What was important to you in terms of where you were going to host your retreat?
S: Quiet, gorgeous, incredible food, great beds.
Thanks Shannon! We hope to see you and your community back at the Edge sometime soon.
More about Shannon:
Hello, I’m Shan!! I am a yogi and a writer and a mama and entrepreneur. I live with my three babes and incredible husband in a gorgeous little town called Deep River.
We used to own a beautiful yoga studio called White Pine Yoga, that we ran and loved for 7 years. We settled into this incredible little community that was created and felt very held and supported and so damn blessed for the opportunity. But life is complex and short and we decided last year that we needed to do something different and sold it.
I think I was just feeling creatively tapped out and ready to do something new. So we took some much needed time off and then started an outdoor inspired apparel and goods company, Anupaya (which means ‘the pathless path’ in Sanskrit). We have a strong environmental stewardship initiative called the ‘One Pound Promise’ where we commit to taking care of our wild spaces by removing one pound of waste for every product sold by hosting and funding community cleanups across Canada. We just wanted to really help and be of service and use business as a force for good in the world. We also wanted to travel and host cleanups and celebrate community along the way.
We are also currently building a retreat centre on the Ottawa River about 3 hours from Northern Edge, where we will host retreats and workshops seasonally. My husband bought our land 16 years ago with the intent to build a retreat centre, but life and babies and doubt and busyness got in the way. It feels good to finally start a really big and scary dream.
I am also Executive Director and Founder of Peaceful Path Yoga Project, a non-profit that brings free yoga and meditation to vulnerable populations in the Ottawa Valley.
And I’m pretty stoked when I’m outside. Canoeing, paddle boarding, hammocking, hiking. Professionally and personally, I really love to support people in their lives and help them to take better care of themselves, to soften into their truths and to remember to what it means to truly belong to themselves.
I love to write and take photographs and in some small way, help create beautiful things in the world.
I’m also scattered and controlling and unsure and make lots of mistakes. Like everyone else, just trying to show up doing my absolute imperfect best.
Show Shannon some love, and follow Anupaya Quality Goods on Facebook.