Yesterdays yoga retreat brought together a great group of moms, daughters, aunts and nieces. There was a great connection for me amongst the whole group as friends from many areas of my life joined me for this workshop.
We set the room up in a sun ray shape, with each couple set up next to each other. We started the class with a name game where we said our name and we stated one thing that we do to make us calm. Some of the responses were: yoga, running, swimming, walking the dog, walking in the woods, deep breathing, laying on the couch listening to music, reading and dancing. Everyone seemed to be able to relate to all calming ideas and we smiled and nodded our heads with each suggestion.
The underlying lesson for today's class was "Calm in the Storm". Everyone can relate especially at this time of the year how we all feel like we are running around trying to get to the point that we are going to have vacation and relax, but often we run right past vacation and there is never any rest.
After starting in Balasana (child's pose), just to calm ourselves and give us a chance to focus inwards-feel our breath expand in our bellies and press against the thighs-stimulating the relaxation response in one of the most accessible forward bends, I talked about looking inside and finding the space inside of us to relax. I noted that at times of extreme activity, my body felt tight and wrapped up, no moving space available; All I was was skin and bones. But if I could take a moment to unwind, to fill my body up like a balloon, then the space within allowed me to feel open, relaxed and able to take in all types of experiences, whether, good or bad. We talked about the Fight or Flight response, just so everyone knew the physical and mental changes our bodies go through when we experience fight or flight.
Throughout the class we explored partner poses and ways that we could help our partners by being good assistants. We started with a simple back-to-back seated twist. Standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), we played with our toes, shifted our weight and swayed our torsos. Sun salutation modification to include high and then low lunge with a balance and then into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose). We dropped to our knees and explored the arms for downward dog and then one partner would go back into downward dog and the other would assist by first standing behind and puling back at the hip points and then coming to the front and pushing through the sacrum. We played with the balance of Anantasana (Vishnu's Couch Pose) by imagining we were laying on the top of a fence; the challenge of Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose) while trying to balance on one arm and possibly bring our top leg into tree pose and the relaxation of Makarasana (Crocodile Pose) lying on our bellies, arms crossed in front with our forehead resting on our stacked hands-letting our whole shoulder girdle slide off like a scarf falling around our ears.
Standing we explore Vrksasana (Tree pose) and see how many ways we can challenge our balance with our partner; Trikonasana (triangle pose) and then Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose). We took a moment to explore the balance of half moon and then going into out partners again, one person tool half moon while the other person assisted them them with the balance (standing behind in a strong position, holding the hip and helping it open while at the same time pressing the posers upper palm with the assister's free palm to help stabilize the pose).
We lay down for a mini Savasana and then talked about mandalas. I had brought many different coloring book page mandalas-something for everyone! We did not even realize how fast the time had gone, so our coloring session was a bit shorter than I had planned. I sent everyone home with their creations and a nice piece of mounting board for them to display their beautiful mandalas at home in a a place where they could relax and meditate.
I loved the class. Wish my mom could have taken it with me! I will pan another for the spring!
Thank you all deeply,
Charles Dutoit: London Sinfonietta-Saint-Saens: Carnival Des Animaux-Aqarium
Ravi Shankar-Pather Panchali
The Roots (ft. The Miguel Atwood Ferguson Dillchestra)-Antiquity
Brian Eno-Deep Blue
Stars-Sleep Tonight (Junior Boys Remix)
Leo’s Sunshipp-Give Me the Sunshine (Vocal)
Iron & Wine-Boy with a Coin
Chamberlain-Lost In The World (Kanye West Ft Bon Iver cover)
Larry Heard pr. Mr. White-The Sun Can’t Compare
Ben Lee-Kids (MGMT)
The Pool-Jamaica Resting
Chitti Babu-Ananda Sagara-Raga Garudadhwani-Adi Talam-Thyagaraja
Thomas Smith-Retina Scan (Anthea Scholtz delayed remix)
Stars-This Charming Man (The Smiths cover)
Mozart-Sonata in C Major (part 1)
Mozart-Sonata in C Major (part 2)
Mozart-Sonata in C Major (part 3)
Moby-The Rain Falls and the Sky Shudders