19 May, 2012

We are always here, always now

This afternoon was class 3 of the "City of Dreams" yoga retreat, Vinyasa plus Yin with Jo.

This entire day, I had the opportunity to be with people who are open and genuine, and who know what it means to "show up." We took a hike in the afternoon around the grounds of Fort Worden. I was unaware that it would be anything more than wooded trails. It turned out to be this interesting arrangement of military bunkers and various structures, scattered through the woods. The first assumption would be, logically, that this was a camp set up to defend against the Japanese during World War II. Right? But it was actually built in the 1890s to defend what were considered to be highly strategic ports in the Pacific Northwest. It was used as a training ground during World War I. Wow!

It felt like I was walking through the landscape of some sort of video game, or something you might see in rural parts of France. Strange to see it in Washington State.

The day was filled with fun conversation, silliness, photos, and a general feeling of well-being. We are all here. Connected. And that connection is through Cassandra.

That point really hit home this evening, in our second class of the day. Jo began class by asking us to answer a series of questions that she'd been thinking about. We each had a piece of paper to write our brief answers, and then we discussed them a bit. One of Jo's questions was "What dreams do you have?" And she pointed out that this retreat was a dream of Cassandra's, and that we all were a part of making it come true.

And it was the first time that I realized that we all showed up for Cassandra. Of course, we also showed up for ourselves. But, when I thought about this retreat, I'd imagined it like an event that Cassandra was holding, and that the participants were the "receivers" and Cassandra was the "giver." But it is really more than that. We are here because of the meaning she has in our lives, either as a friend, a sister, or a teacher. That's kinda special.

Jo's Vinyasa this evening was great. I've got to say, it's nice to sweat because of the movement of my muscles alone. It's interesting to see just how much heat we generate in certain poses. To notice that even a series of 2 or 3 Sun As can get the heart moving, and the sweat flowing.

During this retreat, I have been really enjoying the use of a block during many of the poses. I rarely, if ever, have brought a block into a Vinyasa class. But when it's there, and I think to use it, the discovery is that some of the poses are becoming more controlled. Especially the balance poses like Half Moon and Standing Splits. I will bring that lesson back to my practice at Urban Yoga Spa.

The second half of our class tonight involved deep Yin poses. Getting into the hips, the shoulders. Some of the poses are a bit emotional, because we realize how much tension is stored in these joints. It took years, decades, for that tension to set deep into those places. And now, we are rooting around in there, discovering what is there, where it is, and what it feels like. Shaking out cobwebs and knots. And along with the physical sensations, there's emotion as well. The first place I go is the frustration of "Why did I let myself become this tight?" But that's the same old voice. The one that starts right off with criticism. And I let it go, and listen to the breath. I did find it harder to stay with the breath in Yin. I find myself distracted by the pose, trying to go deeper, and realizing that I haven't taken a breath. The deeper we go, it seems, the more temptations there are to lure us out of the moment.

But we are always here. Always now. Whether our minds play along, or not.

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