July 22 – 24 Have you ever wondered about deepening your yoga practice? Join Kristine for a mini-retreat that will take your practice deeper as you learn more about yoga, asana, meditation, and the rich philosophy of yoga. We will take the time to explore the practices of asana, yogic breathing, and yogic meditation, as well as being introduced to yogic philosophy. COST: 238.00.
SCHEDULE FOR THE RETREAT
July 22 (Friday)
5:30 – 6:00 PM: Welcome/Introduction
6:00 – 7:00 PM: Yoga Class
7:00 — 8:00 PM: Meditation and Yoga (citta, purusa, prakriti, vrittis)
8:00 – 8:30 PM: Closing Yoga
July 23 (Saturday)
8:00 – 10:00 AM: Yoga Class
10:00 – 11:00 AM: Meditation and Yoga
11:00 AM –12:00 PM: Pranayama (yogic breathing)
1:00 – 2:30 PM: Yogic Philosophy
2:30 – 3:00 PM: Meditation
3:00 – 5:00 PM: Asana
July 24 (Sunday)
9:00 – 10:00 AM: Meditation
10:15 – 11:15 AM: Yoga Class
11:15 AM – 12:15 PM: Break
12:15 – 4:15 PM: Yogic Philosophy: Overview of Patanjali’s yoga sutras
We are college students, retired types, professors, moms, dads, men, women, professionals, able-bodied and living with disabilities, pre-teens and teens . . . We are young(ish) and old(er) . . . We are a whole lot of different types of people, and we get together to engage our bodies, minds, and spirits through exercise, stretch, yoga, and dance. Mostly, we are an open community that welcomes you to come and try a class and find a fit. We laugh together, and we also enjoy the practice and discipline that yoga and Nia bring into our lives. We support one another and we take things at our level. Our teachers make it a priority to help you find you body’s way in yoga and Nia. We have a variety of classes . . . Why not give it a try?
Let’s face it . . . We all need a break sometimes. We need moment to step back, gain some perspective, recognize that we are more than the thoughts and emotions we are having in the immediate moment. We need a moment to realize that we are more than the physical pain, the grief, the fear, or the illness we are experiencing. It’s no wonder that, within the traditional path of yoga, four of it’s eight limbs are dedicated to learning to quiet and focus our minds. In yoga, it’s sometimes called “cultivating the witness.” We use our breath, our ability to focus and concentrate, our posture, and our intention to become familiar with that part of ourselves that can “witness” our thoughts, feelings, even our discomfort. We initially learn to recognize, and then gradually to be at home with, this witnessing part of ourselves. Once found, the witnessing place within us can be a powerful reminder that we are more than the sum of our immediate strong feelings, thoughts, story-lines, physical pain, even illness. Cultivation of the witness within ourselves empowers us to make choices where before we felt victim to circumstances and situations beyond our control. We meet the witness as a loving, non-judgmental place within ourselves. Spending time in this witnessing place creates a sense of sanctuary and peace.
We begin learning this process early on in yoga practice, and then we integrate it into our asana practice. Once we are able to consistently find it in yoga, it has the benefit of expanding outward into the rest of our lives.
Let’s take another look at a fun posture, good for opening us up for spring. “The Roaring Lion Posture (whose original Indian name is Simhasana) in Yoga is suitable for people of all ages and types (including old and weak) because it is relatively easy to perform. The posture is sometimes referred to as Bhairavasana . . . The posture gets its name because the face of the person performing it resembles the face of a Roaring Lion (Simha Mudra or Lion Face Gesture) because of the open mouth and extended tongue.” Kind of fun to combine lion pose with some spring bunnies . . . Everyone is doing it!
How do you “hug into” the center of things so that you can then open your heart? As Bridget Lyons reminded many of us last week when she visited Nourish Yoga to teach, these are two concepts that are fundamental to yoga and life. We “hug in” to our mid-line — on a physical plane, we hug our body into the center to create stability and balance. In our lives, we “hug in” around those core beliefs, values, a sense of self that we know to be true or right for us. With this firm center, this central axis, we are able to “melt our heart,” to soften in the center. Again, in yoga, this allows for a freedom and flexibility that allows us to do some new things, explore new asanas that may not have been accessible to us before. On a life level, “melting our heart” opens us to new ways of thinking and being that may be what we need in our lives at this moment. Sometimes, these two actions of “hugging in” and “melting” seem at odds with one another, but they actually complement and support each other — they are somewhat like dance partners in this life journey we take. This little Buddah image is from my friend Suzanne at Living in the Garden. It strikes me as a moment of hugging in around that which is beautiful and precious, so that we can offer our hearts to that which matters. Here’s to seeking out those moments!
What “roads” do you walk, everyday, without even thinking about it? Are they beautiful and centering, or paths that no longer serve you?
We’ve probably all seen it, even walked it – the dirt road with the well-worn grooves. The road traveled the same way by the same set of tires or pair of feet so many times that another path no longer seems possible. When the dirt road is our life and the grooves are our habits, so well-worn into our daily living that they seem inseparable from our being, they are called “samskaras” in Sanskrit. Samskara refers to all of the ways in which our mind has become habituated – positive and negative – to think in particular patterns and follow regular courses of thought, causing us to act and react in certain ways, often without thinking. Yoga practice seeks to do two things. The first is to recognize old samskara that might be limiting our lives or our growth, and to create and replace it with healthy samskara. The second is to use our asana practice to “shake it up” a bit – to carry out a practice that is not always determined by our habit, but one that helps us to clear out our mind and become less bound by “the same old, same old.” The idea is that when we are able to recognize habits within our movement and our bodies and become less bound by them, this practice, eventually, helps us to let go of the habits, ways of thinking, judgments, old stories, that keep us bound in unproductive ways in our lives.
Consider taking a new path today. See anything new?
Ever have one of those days (or weeks, or months . . . ) those times when it all seems a bit broken beyond repair, or at least breaking up? I was in full tilt of that feeling, when I walked out our door and found this askew angel, wings broken off, after a mighty wind (we have them a lot around here). Later, I was reading the insightful blog of Bridget Lyons, an Anusara yoga teacher in Driggs Idaho, who spoke of the Hindu goddess, Akhilandeshwairi. Her name, translated from the Sanskrit, literally means “the goddess who is never not broken.” Turns out that she rides around on a crocodile, a creature who kills its prey, not by merely clamping down with its mighty jaw, but by thrashing it around until it becomes dizzy to the point of senselessness (and then pulling into the water to drown). Apparently, Akhilandeshwairi is a gal who knows how to ride the tides and storms of life. Her place is one of reminding us that, many times, in some part of our lives or world, that’s the way it is, and the only way through it is . . . well, through it. As Bridget writes: “Akhilandeshwari’s reality is one of fragmentation. She is like a prism, taking in white light and breaking it up into the beautiful color spectrum. In doing so, she creates more beauty – out of the brokenness. We are like Akhilandeshwari, and the ways in which we fragment are unique to each one of us. Our fissures make us who we are.” Sometimes, we need to look a little deeper, to find the beauty that bursts out of those broken places.
In yoga and Nia, we’ve been focusing on the core — that grounded center of the body, source of our sense of personal power and firey energy — and how that translates into the ways in which we claim and exercise our power in the world. A hero claims personal power and then uses it with great wisdom and courage. We (perhaps especially women) sometimes have an uneasy relationship with personal power. We are quick to give it away, and uncomfortable claiming it as our own.
Claiming our center, our core, our power, isn’t easy. I’m reminded of someone who came up to me after class, face glowing, and said “Wow . . . how did you get me to do that?” I responded by saying “YOU did it . . . all I did was provide the safe container, and the community around you provided the energy that helped give you the courage to go for it!”
On of my yoga teachers, Tiffany Wood, who has been in Moscow at Nourish Yoga teaching this week, spoke last night during class of the “Guru principle.” My take away from that class is that the guru isn’t a person, but rather that which opens your heart to its full potential. It is anything that teaches your entire being, even for a moment, how to sing. The guru connects the heart and the center — the true self and the source of power — and thus mentors the hero. As Tiffany said, your guru might be a blue yoga block, which when hugged tightly to your body, teaches it to open in a new way.
The guru and the hero are both, ultimately, inside of us, inviting us to know ourselves as we are, nudging us toward who we are becoming. Thanks to my teachers and to my students for being gurus and heroes this week.