I have not yet written about Yoga in Iceland. You might think it odd that there are no photos of the indoor yoga classes, which were held twice daily in a warm room near our cabins, but I prefer not to take photos while I am teaching. In fact, it is nearly impossible. It is the furthest thing from my mind because when I am teaching, I am focused on guiding the class into a thoughtful safe sequence of movements that invites everyone to go deeply inside themselves.
We, did, however, take plenty of yoga photos while out on hikes and day trips, which you will see on this blog post.
It is strange to plan a retreat for so long, so far in advance, to look forward to it, to dream about it, to wonder, to plan for months, and then suddenly to have it behind me. The retreat now is a part of my life experience, an experience that I hope to repeat, one I will never forget, and one I will forever hold in my heart.
Over the past two weeks, I made a commitment to write daily posts. Somehow I carved out time to pump out blog posts on schedule, but I think the posts were short on words due to lack of time or energy and I hoped the photos would speak volumes to the powerful beauty of Iceland. Now the reflective time comes, and it is time to talk about the most integral part of the retreat: the yoga!
Every day began with yoga. And we did yoga in the early evening before dinner. Morning sessions were more active, giving us energy for the day ahead. Evening sessions more yin in nature, more restorative, a way to unwind after a full day of activity and exploring or after a calming day at the hot springs. Every session ended with a 15-minute meditation which was either done seated or while lying in shavasana. Sometimes I felt like jello while teaching the evening sessions, especially after a day of soaking in the hot springs. Often I felt hyperactive as I seemed to have absorbed the volcanic and geo-thermal activity we passed along the way during our hikes and outings. I do not think I was alone in feeling very energized by all the seen and unseen energy around us!
As a group, I sensed we all felt similarly influenced by our surrounding environment and by our various activities. I taught each unique session by feeling my way around the seismic activities of the heart, body, and spirit of each group.
During Week I, I attempted to do a Hot Spring Yoga Session at the Hidden Lagoon. It was an unusually warm and sunny day for Iceland. Orvar said it was warmer than any one day they had last summer! It was perhaps 60 degrees out. Add to that the very warm water of the Hidden Lagoon. After about 15 minutes of doing yoga in the warm sunshine while immersed in hot spring water, we had to break up the session and get out of the water to cool off and re-hydrate. During Week II, I led a yoga session at Laugarvatn, another hot spring. The water was probably just as warm, but the temperature was cooler outside so most people could tolerate this hot spring yoga session better. If I lived in Iceland, I’d hold all my yoga sessions in hot springs. I have never seen everyone looking so flexible and having so much fun!
Throughout the sessions, I read and reread the following to my classes, words that shaped the soul of our yoga sessions:
In this land of Vikings
Can we be sure to do all the Warrior Poses?
In this Land of Sagas
Can we have some Poses with Stories?
In his Land of Hidden People
How can we bring forth some Color and Mystery?
in this Land of Fire
Can we Generate Heat and Energy
And Molten Movement?
In this Land of Ice
Can we Activate Slow Power
And Quiet Transformations?
Yes, I think I succeeded in leading yoga sessions which spoke to the above themes. Like the Icelandic people, who are so shaped by their environment, I felt each yoga session I taught was shaped by our collective experiences in Iceland, the land of Fire and Ice. I saw incredible transformations in individuals as well in myself. These past two weeks have been outstanding and I hope to repeat the retreat experience in Iceland again!