Issaquah Day Retreat: Yoga at Crystal Creek Studio

Crystal Creek Yoga Studio in Issaquah!

I held two one-day retreats this past weekend at Cathy Pierce’s home and studio in Issaquah at Crystal Creek Studio!  This is the third time I have offered these day retreats. They are held in the spring and again in autumn and they are purely magical!

Cathy’s house is surrounded by forest.  It sits on the side of Squak Mountain.  The trailhead is just a few minutes walk from her house and yoga studio.  The yoga experience starts with the early morning drive across the I-90 bridge as you leave the city and drive east.  There is hardly any traffic and the morning fog still clings to the trees.  After winding your way up to Cathy’s house and studio, the theme of the season welcomes you!  I am talking pumpkins and a psychedelic kaleidoscope-like Halloween themed lamp, vases filled with autumn grasses, and ghosts and bats floating  over the deck.  Every year, Cathy’s decor changes.  Every day, she rearranges the design and you discover yet more of her creative artistry at work.  Her warmth spreads into her home and studio and you immediately feel at home, comfortable, peaceful and cozy. She creates the universal home every human being craves where harmony, love, warmth, and security reign!  I find the setting very inspiring.  Add to the setting a beautiful group of people who come together in a pure spirit of exploring yoga and unfolding, wonderfully long yoga sessions, delicious healthy organic homemade lunches punctuated with macaroons, chocolate chip cookies, and pear upside-down cake all made by Cathy’s loving hands, and a hike in the forest where the trees are bearded with moss, and you have the recipe for a Perfect Day!

Squak Mountain hike/ Issaquah magic

The Practice   

The following sequence was done on both Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday’s session was Gentle Yoga so postures were modified as necessary.  On Sunday, I amped things up a bit by repeating this sequence with more challenging variations.  All postures below were done on Side I and then on Side II.  Please note: We had a LOT of time so we went slowly and thoroughly, giving our bodies time to explore each pose, find proper alignment, and to soak in the benefits of each pose.  The sequence should be followed by Deep Relaxation which is then followed by a glass of Water!

Warrior I

Triangle

Half Moon

Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Steer while lying on the back (Gomukhasana)

Steer Seated with Arms in position

Pigeon

Three Legged Dog

Crescent Moon (Anjaneyasana)

Prayer Balance Pose (Parvritta Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)

Wide Forward Bend

Lord Shiva’s Dance or Dancer’s Pose (Natarajasana) Do both side of this last asana and then REPEAT all Poses on the second side

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Part II: INTENSIFY  (Please Note: “Intensify” does not mean “Go Faster”…take your time and BREATHE your way into each posture.)

Warrior II  + back heel down and clasp hands behind the back, bend forward and reach head towards the floor

Triangle + Extended Side Angle and connect arms after wrapping them around the leg whose knee is bent. Look up.

Half Moon + Grab hold of foot while in the pose to morph Dancer’s Pose with Half Moon.  Look up if possible.

Steer (full pose) + fold forward while in the pose

Pigeon + Bend back knee and grab hold of the foot OR add a twist

Three Legged Dog + come into a back bend by dropping the raised leg behind the grounded foot..reach free arm over head

Crescent Moon + Hanumanasana (Splits)  can use a block placed under the sitting bone of the straightened leg

Prayer Balance Pose +Extend Arms for a deeper twist or wrap arms around legs

Pyramid Pose + Revolved Triangle Pose

Wide Forward Bend and move to PLANK to Chatturange Dandasana to Cobra to Child’s Pose to Downward Facing Dog to Forward Bend at the front of the mat to Mountain and begin this challenging sequence to Side II

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I asked each person to find something special on their hike. This task was inspired by Cathy’s earlier forest findings. She found a stone broken in two, embedded in the earth. When she picked up the two halves, she discovered they fit together perfectly to form one round stone.  She cradled the stone in a bed of  pine needles and neatly tied it together with a reed of grass.  It’s funny to be asked to find something in the forest. At first  you only see trees and path.  But when you train your eyes to really see, wonders emerge and treasures are found:

Cathy's Rock

Linda's Moss Garden decorated with wildflowers and tiny mushrooms from the autumn forest

Betty's leaf composition (on the left) next to Fran's chocolate colored Oregon grape leaf (mahonia) and triangle rock

Fog in the Forest

On Saturday, I asked each person to briefly describe YOGA, as if to give a definition for someone who has never done yoga before:

Yoga is a practice.  It’s endless. It’s reflective.  It is PEACE itself.  Cathy

I am a Virgo which means I tend to be analytical and I tend to be in my mind, reliving my past.  Yoga brings me to the present. It helps me with the physical (my body) and with the non-physical (my mind).  Barbara

Yoga provides a connection with ancient physical poses which have survived centuries.  These physical postures help connect me to the spiritual side of myself. Patty

Yoga can be whatever you want it to be. It can be ACTIVE! It can be Calming.  It can be Vigorous.  You use the practice the way you want to use it.  The yoga practice always addresses your needs.  Linda

Linda and Leaning Log

During Shavasana, I led the group in a meditation.  We focused on the mantra, So Hum. At the end of the guided meditation, I asked each person to add an image to the So Hum Mantra.

So Hum  I Am That

So Hum I am the Blue Sky, I am the Clouds.

So Hum, I am the Light in a Child’s Eyes

So Hum, I am the Sun, the Wind, the Rain

So Hum, I am the Perfect and the Imperfect

So Hum, I am my Whole Life, my Whole Self from Birth to Death (Cathy- as described on Saturday)

So Hum, I am the Warm Flame of the Fire (Dayna)

So Hum, I am Re-Grounded (Brooke)

So Hum, I am the Wind Rustling the Leaves (Betty)

So Hum, I am Green (Koren and Leslie)

So Hum, I am the Birds Chirping (Marilyn.. 11 parakeets chirping)

So Hum, I am Sleep (Howard)

So Hum, I am Mist on a Leaf (Britt)

Viparita Karani Asana: well deserved REST!

Tea. anyone?

The next Saturday and Sunday one-day yoga retreats in Issaquah will most likely be held the first weekend in May, 2012.  As soon as I get a confirmation on the date with Cathy, I will post the date on my website (www.frangallo.com).  Next May, both days will be Level II-Intermediate Yoga.


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