A Yoga Retreat Helps a Stressed Professional Find Peace

By: Nancy Doyle Palmer

Travel > Nearby Getaways > Great Weekends

Irene Fraser needed to get away. A program director for Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care in the District and a former relief worker in war-torn and tsunami-devastated Sri Lanka, she and a friend decided to try a weekend of yoga and meditation at Yogaville, in Buckingham, Virginia.

Relief work in Sri Lanka had left Irene Fraser feeling some sadness and guilt. A yoga retreat helped her deal with those emotions. Photograph of Fraser by Matthew Worden.

The weekend, she says, changed her life.

“I didn’t go with many expectations,” says Fraser, who had done yoga for just a year before this retreat. “The essence of the weekend for me was to find strategies to deal with chaos in the outside world. Learning mantras and chants, how to meditate, how to give your body permission to completely relax was really new to me. We don’t often get a chance to do that. What started as a weekend retreat turned into something I have totally embraced.”

The trip last fall, Fraser says, taught her to be less fearful and “more open and less cynical.” She now meditates every morning and practices yoga as often as possible.

“I work with young people in very difficult circumstances,” she says, “but I can have peace and stillness inside, and it helps so much.”