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I stood stoically in tree pose, eyes closed, breathing in the cool morning air rushing up the cliff-side from the ocean below, completely focused on my breath and my being—and utterly unattached from all my electronic devices. It was liberating, more so when I opened my eyes to scan the skyline of Baja from the yoga sky deck surrounded by equally strong women. It was the epiphany I had expected…except it was not, that was to come later in a most unexpected way.

I departed from home ready to completely immerse myself in mindfulness on MT Sobek’s first ever Baja Wellness Retreat with Canyon Ranch. It was a chance to focus on personal growth while being among other like-minded individuals. Individuality was my emphasis before arriving, it was what I felt in that first morning yoga session. While remaining important, it wasn’t the yoga that gave me that pivotal transformative feeling that I’ll never forget. What was that moment?

It was a part of the trip I looked forward to but thought, “oh hum, I’ve done this.” It was the day we went surfing. Going with a group of women of all ages and backgrounds—some comfortable in the water, uber-athletes, and true first-timers—was not only fun but inspiring. The day was perfect, the long boards laid out on the sand with precision and the coaches giving us the drill and motivation that “yes, everyone CAN get up and stand!” There were some doubters. Me included. I just didn’t want to let anyone know that yes, I’d done this before, but it had been a very, very long time and I am a very, very competitive person.

The time was now, and I paddled out with my coach into the perfect sets at El Cerrito Beach. Not too big, not too small, not choppy at all but long and beautiful waves ready to guide us back to the beach. I had moments of doubt about each of us and looked over at my fellow adventurer as I paddled furiously into the swell, and rose triumphantly onto the board to ride deliciously into shore.

The release while riding that wave was euphoric, but the euphoria I felt was nothing compared to witnessing the sheer joy and delight on my new-found-friend Tina’s face as she got to her knees, and feet to ride that wave…before tumbling into the water and emerging victorious and a bit stronger than when she first paddled out. Then we looked at each other and immediately turned the boards around and headed back out for another ride, and another, and another.

Hours went by as the six of us conquered wave after wave, fell deliciously into the water and rose more victorious each time. Surfing is usually a fairly solitary event but this day was truly the opposite, we were a team of women that were riding the waves with pure and utter joy, relishing the successes of each other, and finding a bit more peace and love of ourselves and our natural surroundings.

It reminded me again that while yes, we at MT Sobek have launched a series of Wellness Adventures, wellness has always been the core of what we do. It’s being in nature, stepping out of your comfort zone, immersing in an activity—and being with others as passionate as you—that is true wellness.

Kimberly Daley, MT Sobek CEO & President

MT Sobek Trip: Baja Wellness Retreat with Canyon Ranch, 2018