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Local duo embraces yoga on trip to Kenya

May 5, 2018 GMT

GENEVA — More often that not, the idea of a retreat brings with it beautiful beaches and spa-filled days.

Not so for Jim Gregoire and Sylvia Sable.

They chose a “retreat” through Kenya, spending their days attending yoga classes and embracing the spirituality of the East African country. While that may seem a little out of most Genevans’ comfort zones, Gregoire said the idea really called to him.

“I’d been there before with my family, and I was really interested to see what had changed, to see everything through the eyes of an adult,” said Gregoire, a regular at Yoga Fingerlakes. “I really wanted to do something independently, just to prove to myself that I could.”

Sable, the leader and driving force behind the retreat, thought the opportunity was invaluable.

“The primary motivation for the retreat was to share an experience that mirrored the one I had in becoming a yoga teacher, in the hopes that it would mean as much to someone else and serve them in a similarly valuable way,” she said. “I actually lived in Kenya for year before returning to Brooklyn, so combining those two experiences seemed like the best way to teach what I know.”

The retreat itself was more than just yoga classes. There was plenty of time to learn more about the Kenyan culture.

“We traveled the way Kenyans traveled, on motorbikes or three-person carts,” Gregoire explained. “The local markets were very interesting, very colorful. We did a lot of sightseeing, but always started out our day with yoga and conversation. We had great support and community. We were like a family.

“Family is everywhere there.”

Led by Sable, a visiting instructor, the retreat had the theme of “living our intention,” an idea that she said is very close to those who made the trip.

“I really got a better sense of why I’m here and what I can do,” Gregoire admitted.

“It means alignment — between what you think, what you say and what you do,” Sable elaborated. “It’s a matter of realizing you have the power to make change in life.”

Yoga Fingerlakes is in the heart of downtown Geneva. It offers classes in yoga, reiki, belly dancing, meditation, and other health and wellness classes and practices. Sable, who visited last December to promote her retreat, valued the opportunity to spread her message.

“I absolutely love and admire what Lisa Genovese is doing at Yoga Fingerlakes,” Sable said. “Bringing yoga and healing arts to the region is a true act of service. I’m very grateful to Lisa and the team at Yoga Fingerlakes for giving me the space and time to share.”

“We bring in teachers from all over, and I think that’s very valuable,” Genovese said. “Different teachers bring different perspectives to the students.”

While noting this kind of yoga retreat may not be for everyone, Gregoire became a believer in soaking in as much culture and experience as possible.

“Anyone thinking about a trip like this, just go for it,” he said. “There’s a lot of stress beforehand, but it’s worth it, big time. It’ll be really rewarding, no matter where you go. The takeaway I got from this was that the world isn’t as scary as we’re so often told.”

Genovese echoed these sentiments.

“Jim is an example of how it’s possible to have an open mind, take a risk, and get an awesome experience out of it,” Genovese said. “I like that kind of positivity.”