Sojourn to the Sol

And the People the Universe Brings Me

By Ryan Willms

This January I spent a week in Sayulita, Mexico at my first yoga retreat. I’d actually done my very first yoga class in Sayulita six years ago, when I visited the town for 10 days alone. That trip followed a stressful month in New York opening a retail store combined with a tumultuous break up. I was ready to try new things however, the intention didn’t stick, and I didn’t start practising yoga regularly until late 2015, during my last few months living in Vancouver. I went regularly for three months and I began to feel better than I had in the last year or two, so of course when I arrived in New York I sought out the nearest studio. Unfortunately, I did yoga only twice in the following two years, and finally returned to it with renewed enthusiasm and commitment in the winter of 2017. Since then, my practice has become a key piece of my well-being and I’ve made yoga a priority in my life.


This retreat, however, wasn’t inspired by deepening my practice or learning a new style of yoga, although both of those did happen. The trip was really influenced by my reconnection with Whitney Hornsberger, the man leading the sojourn to the sol in Sayulita. I met Whit 15 years ago in my first year at the University of Calgary. He was the star of the basketball team, and I was the freshman redshirt. I felt like a child amongst men at the time, but fortunately Whit and a few of the older guys took to me and made me feel pretty welcome. I left university after two years, and hadn’t seen Whit for at least a decade before hearing about this handsome charmer teaching yoga in Vancouver and Victoria, particularly from a friend of my mom’s. It wasn’t until Whit popped into my consciousness in the middle of a plant medicine ceremony last summer that I made a real note to myself to reach out to him. Fortunately the universe was going to make it easy for me as a nearly unbelievable sequence of events over a week lead to Whit and I both being in Victoria, dealing with our own recoveries, so to speak.




From the moment I saw him I could feel the love and energy from this man I hadn’t really seen in 15 years. It was energizing and felt powerful. We’d both done a healthy amount of personal exploration and he was one of the first people that I was able to really connect with on some of the deeper issues I’d been struggling with at the time. Just sharing these feelings and experiences was healing for me, and I couldn’t help but think that the universe had manifested this for us. Whit happened to bring up a book that someone else had previously recommended. Another friend had told about this book, Radical Acceptance, which I had actually recommended to somebody without reading it first myself. I’d always felt bad about this, so when Whit brought it up, I took it as a sign and proceeded to dive straight into it. It happened to help me in a huge way at the time. It forced me to confront a deep fear that I’d been unaware of, and I had no choice but to explore it thoroughly and find a way past it.  In the past two years, I’ve tried to be open and aware enough to see these signs, and to pay attention when it’s time to be and when it’s time to do. Whit’s been a clear example of how this can be both helpful for things both big and small.

Whitney Hornsberger

I saw Whit in Victoria in August, right after I’d had my ACL surgery and Whit’s upcoming retreat was perfectly timed for mid-January, when my knee would be strong enough to spend a week deep in practice. Not only was my good friend and previous coach John and his wife Christina also in the same region in Mexico, but they were there working on their new retreat space in Sayulita, which I got to explore with them in it’s raw state. I mention this not because we all came together to hatch yoga retreat plans, but because all of these simple signs and steps led me to spending nine days in Mexico with some of the most loving, open, warm people in my life, all of whom are doing positive work in the world and bringing love to everything they do.


The past couple of years have marked some of the biggest changes in all aspects of my life to date, and it’s no surprise that this would affect the people that I’m drawn to and that are drawn to me. Now with 18 months of retrospect on this process, it’s very interesting to see the people who’ve drifted away from me and those who’ve come into, or back into my life. I absolutely believe in energy vibrations and the power of the universe to connect us to people putting out similar frequencies, and the evidence is mounting in my own experience. Reconnecting with Whit has been wonderful and my work and friendship with John has brought me many fruits, including some great introductions to people in Los Angeles and elsewhere.


The bowl of freedom

Going back to my theme of doing vs being, I think this part of my life has been one where trust in the universe is key. It’s difficult to force these meetings and connections but with patience and experience, my faith has grown stronger and along with it my excitement, I mean who’s next? It could be a new business partner, a lover, a mentor. If I’m honest with myself, with my words and in my actions, I believe the universe is going to continue to bringing like-souled people into my life. If that’s the only result of embarking on this path of personal work then it’s well-worth it. But I know the universe is nowhere near finished as it’s energy never stops and these frequencies will continue no matter what my vibration is, so it’s my work to keep raising it each day and put out what I hope to get back—unconditional love.

The rugged coastline south of Sayulita

Sometimes it makes me a little bit sad to have lost connection with some of the people I was once closer to, but I know that we’re all on our journey and nothing ever stays the same. As I continue to nurture my sensitivity to these energies, it’s interesting to feel who I’m attracted to and who I’m not as drawn to. More often than not I can feel it right away lately. I’m sure this was happening in New York but I was very unaware of it, and of course I was putting out quite a different vibration for the most part. Again, in retrospect I can see how I was attracting what I was putting out. I think this concept is something most of us have heard of many times, but for me there is a big difference between understanding it intellectually and feeling it in my soul. Developing the latter has been a powerful tool, and I’m grateful for the beautiful people that the universe has brought me recently, and for those who are yet to come.


Visit Whit’s website to see his schedule for upcoming teachings and yoga and meditation retreats.

This article was written by Ryan Willms and published on February 11, 2019