This New Year's Yoga Retreat at Doe Bay was my 7th year leading this wonderful retreat. At this point, most attendees have been in past years because folks just keep coming back. The nourishment we create through practice, community, yoga and food during this weekend is unparalleled and I love coming back again and again as a touchstone to the start of each my new years. This year, with the snow moving through the San Juan islands day before, we practiced a great deal of non-attachment as the weekend approached, debating whether the retreat would go forward. Luckily, the weather behaved and the roads were cleared and we came together again for 3 days of reflection, insight and connection. Our focus this weekend was being present. So often the new year holds plans for the coming year or reflection on the past but it felt potent to simply sit with what is, moment to moment and that was our practice for the weekend. Below you'll find quotes and poems that were part of the weekend. I hope they inspire!
I arrived back home this afternoon feeling so blessed after my yearly retreat at Sleeping Lady Resor this weekend with my dear friend and co-teacher, Melina Meza. This retreat always lands at the right time each year, as an invitation to slow down and listen to my intuition and my body before the hectic pace of the holiday season kicks in. I also love the opportunity to reconnect with returning folks, excited to find out what the past year has held for them, and always look forward to meeting the new attendees each year. The richness of the weekend involves movement, meditation and a great deal of poetry. Here are the poems I used for inspiration this year:
Before class Saturday morning I was listening to a podcast with Pádraig Ó Tuama, a poet, theologian and healer living in Ireland. His talk was moving and spoke to many things I had been contemplating about how to come into relationship and conversation during hard times. He has a beautiful presence and profound wisdom and I highly recommend giving it a listen. Near the end eh shared a poem that made me really stand up and listen, in fact, I listened to it several times. While his lens is Catholicism, everything he was speaking to spoke to my practice and why I practice. I shared it in class and several folks felt the same way, so here I am sharing it with you. Enjoy...
This year was another powerful and renewing time at Doe Bay Resort for my annual New Year's Retreat. As we set intentions for the weekend, I started our weekend with a quote by Debbie Ford: "It's ironic that to find the courage to lead an authentic life, you will have to go into the dark rooms of your most inauthentic self. You have to confront the very parts of yourself that you fear most to find what you have been looking for, because the mechanism that drives you to conceal your darkness is the same mechanism that has you hide your light. What you've been hiding from can actually give you what you've been trying hard to achieve."
The weekend followed with these inspiring and powerful poems by Mary Oliver:
Yesterday on the way to teach my benefit class for Thanksgiving Day I saw not one, not two, but three rainbows over the course of about 5 minutes. It was breathtaking, it was awe inspiring and it also reminded me how much I had lost touch with every day wonder and joy. These past two years have felt overwhelming at best as we navigate all the challenges of our social and political systems. Instead of taking moments in the day to see joy, I'm often focusing my energy on what is broken. It made me take the gratitude I practice on Thanksgiving all the more seriously. Its not to say I won't stop paying attention and I won't stop fighting injustices I see in the world, but it is recognizing that I need to spend more time practicing gratitude around the every day miracles and wonders happening in my life around me. It was a powerful reminder and one I was so grateful to receive.
Having just returned from the Sleeping Lady Fall Yoga Retreat, I find myself reflecting with gratitude on the gifts I took away from that weekend. Beyond the beauty of community, nature and time for retreat was the very real need to refill my well. I'd found myself running on empty and found much needed nourishment in the spaciousness and quietude of my time away.
As part of the weekend I shared three of my favorite. poems from Danna Faulds' book Go In and In. Enjoy!
Recent events in the Seattle yoga community have created a huge and much needed dialogue about race, privilege and yoga in the Western world. In my opinion this dialogue is long over due, and what we are all learning is that it is uncomfortable to talk about and we're all sitting in it together. My hope is that as we all sit with the discomfort of recognizing the inherent privilege and power dynamics in the westernized yoga we practice, we start to break those down, one incident at a time.
Here are some things we can thing about moving forward as we start to claim or own actions and their impact within our yoga community and beyond:
The fifth chakra resides in the the region of the throat and as such, has to do with communication. Communication isn't just about conversation with others, but also the conversation we have with ourselves. Accessing the energy of the fifth chakra gives us the capacity to know and speak our own truths. The biggest part of speaking our own truth is listening first to our own deepest desires. Find inspiration in this poem by David Whyte.
The fourth chakra resides in the heart center. This is our energetic heart, not our physical heart and has to do with love, compassion and our ability to extend these energies not only to those around us, but also to ourselves. Sometimes, self love is the hardest expression of love for us to connect to. This poem by David Whyte may help you find this ability to connect to love for yourself on your journey.
Opening up the energy of the 3rd chakra, we welcome in the big energy and heat of fire. Fire is potent and transformative and can connect us to our ambitions and our will. It can drive us forward. Too much of this energy can lead to burn out and anger. We can temper the energy of the 3rd chakra by connecting to its solar aspects and rather than connecting to the heat and power of the sun at high noon, we might instead think of the sun at sunrise, slowly and gradually warming as the energy builds. Connect to this energy with a poem by Mary Oliver.
Yoga teacher, sound healer and explorer of the inner landscape. Join me!