Here on the Pacific coast of Washington, it is not a “given” that we will have great weather for the Summer Solstice. In fact, year after year, I bemoan the fact that, while the rest of the country is enjoying SUMMER, we are still wearing sweaters and rain jackets, aching for sunshine, ready to dry out our webbed feet. This year, however, we had a super sunny and warm Summer Solstice. June has been a very warm month and I have been enjoying watching my vegetable garden grow grow grow. Summer days in this part of the country are LONG and when it is sunny out, we can enjoy daylight deep into the evening. Over the weekend, I noticed it was still light out until nearly 10 pm.
A beautiful yoga group books retreats here at Little Renaissance regularly twice a year. They have been doing this for some 8 years in a row! Now that Rick and I are living out here, I found that I had even more energy to give to the yoga sessions, to the yoga discussions, to cooking all of the meals, to presenting a pristine house imbued with love and peace, to get to know and appreciate each yoga participant more deeply! And, given the gift of great weather, how delightful it was to be able to do our early morning yoga session outside on the beach!
At one point this weekend, I asked each participant to “describe” yoga as if they were having to describe yoga to someone who has never done yoga before. I loved everyone’s answers and found them most meaningful. Most of the answers came in the form of a personal story in terms of what the yoga practice has done for them or what it has meant for them:
Teresa spoke of the physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual healing effects of yoga. She said the first time she did yoga was the first time she felt positive about her body. The yoga postures have a way of aligning us so we appreciate and feel comfortable in the bodies we live in!
Skye said that one day she saw some photos of the fashion model, Christie Turlingon, in five yoga poses. Skye had never seen anything so beautiful and was drawn to Christie’s beautiful body engaged in equally beautiful poses. To Skye, the photos represented serenity, a relaxed state of being, a powerful way to be and she wanted to possess those very qualities. The yoga poses also reminded Skye of her parents, who are very dedicated to their Tai Chi and martial arts disciplines, which they practice on a daily basis. Inspired by her parents and by Christie Turlington, Skye started practicing the five yoga poses she saw in the magazine. Eventually, she started taking yoga classes and was able to experience the beautiful attributes she had seen in the photos!
Rick spoke of “adjustments”. In yoga, some instructors “adjust” you. The instructor comes over and helps you physically with your alignment. As a true poet, Rick sees the “adjustments” as metaphor. If yoga is a practice, then everything we do is a practice. If yoga is a way of connecting to self and to community, then everything we do in life is about connection to self and to others. The same is true of adjustments. If yoga, via an instructor, can adjust you, then your whole life can be an adjustment, a tinkering of sorts, a way of making small changes to fine tune your attitudes, your beliefs, your ways of thinking, and your relationship to life and to all living beings.
Jerry mentioned how, at her gym, she sees yoga being described as a “gentle stretching exercise which will help you become more limber”. She looks at that description and thinks, “No! Yoga is STRENGTH! Just as it embodies softness, it embodies strength.” Yoga has helped Jerry maintain her core strength, has helped her with balance, with her hiking and climbing, and has allowed her to continue taking part in active hikes and climbs.
Christine said that yoga is more than physically stretching and becoming physically strong. For Christine, yoga is a mental and spiritual practice. After she gave birth to her daughter, she was so sleep deprived that she didn’t have time to practice yoga. At that time, in the absence of yoga, she realized just how important the role of her yoga practice was! The yoga discipline has given Christine better coping skills in regards to maneuvering LIFE. For Christine, yoga is a compass for the heart and a spiritual guide to living life.
Gail explained yoga in terms of its Sanskrit definition, which means “to yoke”. You “yoke” yourself to your core. Core can mean your physical strength or can refer to the very center (like the core of an apple) of your self or of your soul. Through the practice of yoga, we yoke ourselves, or connect to, the very core, or center, of everything from the heart to the emotional, physical, and spiritual strength within.
Now, if you were new to yoga, wouldn’t you just be dying to try it out??? Most of my students come to yoga because they have some physical ailment (weak back, poor balance, weak abdominals, etc) and come out of their first class wondering why on earth they feel so darned good and so full of life and so ALIVE! It’s pretty cool, to say the least!
In case you are interested….you can book your very own private retreat at Little Renaissance in Ocean Shores, Washington by contacting me via comments below or via my email at firstname.lastname@example.org In a private retreat, you would arrange to come with your group of friends or family members. I love to teach multi-level groups. Beginners and advanced yogis welcome. We can accommodate 4-7 people. Two people to a room. Retreats run from Friday 5:30 pm until Sunday 1 pm (after lunch). Inquire about fees when you email. Be prepared for a beautiful experience and a weekend of my homemade culinary delights and wonderful yoga in a beautiful environment on the Washington coast!