I came to the practice of yoga 23 years ago when I was expecting my first child. The class was for pregnant women who wanted to do natural childbirth. What surprised me even then was how calm and centered I felt after the classes. Two healthy births, a stressful job and a move across the country brought me back to yoga 17 years ago — at first once a week and then twice a week. Now the practice of yoga has become a rich metaphor for my life.
Of course yoga has given me greater flexibility and stronger muscles, better posture and balance, reduced emotional and physical stress, and increased self-awareness. But more importantly, I have grown in my capacities to take life as it comes to me, exactly as it unfolds, warts and all. The practice of yoga has helped me to grow in compassion for myself and others. Simply put, yoga has helped me to open my heart.
Which leads me to the river and another metaphor…
River Time, as the Winding Waters river guides remind us, is when we become so focused on the experience of the river and its natural beauty that we begin to let go of the frenzied narrative that overwhelms our 21st century lives. We are able to let go of our to do lists, and electronic addictions, and instead are invited to rest in the present moment. The river gives us space in which to simply delight in our beingness. It is on a grand scale what happens in a yoga studio one hour at time.
Granted there is a little trepidation when preparing to run a rapid. We ask ourselves questions like, “Can I do this? Will I fall out of the boat? Will I get hurt?” Likewise when we think about taking up a yoga practice we wonder, “Can I do this? Will I look stupid? Will I get hurt?”
Running a rapid is like being in a yoga posture that takes your total concentration and brings you unwittingly to the present moment. As my daughter says, it is about being “woke”. This is a rarity in our lives as our brains prefer rehashing the past or planning for the future. The river experience, like a yoga practice, reminds us of the gift of being alive right now in this moment. When we open to that, life becomes exhilarating and joyful.
This is why I am excited to be offering a yoga retreat on the Salmon River, July 22-25, 2017. It will be powerful medicine for being “woke”. This is an invitation for anyone who wants to learn more about yoga as well as for those who currently enjoy its benefits. We will begin our days with an opportunity to focus our minds and bodies in the present moment using yoga and then bringing that heightened awareness to the playful flow of the river. In the evenings we will have an opportunity to relax into our bodies and integrate the delights of the day. It is my hope that the gifts of this yoga retreat will continue to ripple out into our everyday lives.
I hope that you will join me on this yoga river adventure!