knitnana: My Birthday Present to Me...

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Birthday Present to Me...

was my first all-day yoga retreat organized by one of my teachers at a yoga studio deep in the Virginia woods up against the Blue Ridge Mountains. The instructor was Meenakshi, my yoga teacher's teacher from Maui.

I've been looking forward to this day for a couple of months, and I awoke, sadly, in a full flare of fibro/lupus symptoms (dratted humidity). It's been a rough couple of weeks with soreness, stiffness, and exhaustion, thanks to the crazy weather we've had here on the East Coast (not to mention some extra work-related stress). My yoga class on Thursday night became a struggle of half-attempted poses with much time spent in Savasana (Corpse Pose, which is much like what it sounds!), as I tried to compensate for heavy fatigue yet not give in completely to the symptoms. I wanted to conserve my flagging energy for the retreat.

So I was pretty bummed when I could barely force myself out of bed today. Still, I perservered: a hot shower, breakfast, organizing my stuff, loading the car, and driving out.

I got there! And once I'd parked, well, I should tell you that I had briefly thought about bringing my camera to share with you but I changed my mind - I didn't want to offend anyone, and this was a retreat. I'm sorry I didn't at least take it along, I don't think, now, that anyone would have minded.

This studio is nestled in the foothills, way out in land I've only guessed was there, a lovely home, but lovelier grounds, with wildflower gardens at the perfect spot, where sun bursts thru the trees. It was essential to wander down the path past the butterfly bush and many varieties of pink and purple flowers before getting to the studio. I learned later it was designed that way, to encourage students to walk away from their lives into the here and now that is yoga class.

My teacher greeted me with an immediate recognition of my pain. "Oh,'re hurting!" And I was touched, but still rather sad that it was so obvious.

"I will do what I can, but I just couldn't miss this, I've been looking forward to it so long."

Always practicing Ahimsa - non-violence, in actions, deeds, and thoughts. It IS the practice, not the perfection of the path after all, and I've a long way to go, it's why it's called practice. One of the Yamas, Ahimsa is non-violence. To others, the world at large, I work hard at and can mostly grasp. It's non-violence to self I have the most trouble with...

Accept what is. Do what you can. And above all, don't hurt yourself...(It's something of a mantra for me...)

The studio was amazing, open floor-to-ceiling windows, cushioned wood laminate floors, mats and props at the ready. I'm not sure how long class was, but it was at least two hours (I made a point of taking off my watch at the start - I didn't want to watch the clock). We had a thunderstorm early on, and the over-heated air cooled. I was glad I took Ishbel with me. Class was very special and I tried to find the middle ground. Afterwards, I felt better!

Our lunch was a vegan masterpiece! I'm not yet at the point of choosing the strictest form of vegetarianism, and may never get there, tho' it, too, is part of Ahimsa. But I eat many vegan meals, and love the food. Friends of the hostess came from Canada to participate in this weekend event (I only signed up for today) and agreed to provide the catering. We've been promised the recipes and I just can't wait...the food was inspired.

Then the afternoon session involved a lecture/discussion of Raja Yoga in the Ashtanga tradition, the eight limbs of yoga, and Pranayama (breathing) practice, before a short meditation session (we touched on walking meditation, but the rain kept us from the wildflower garden).

I'm home, and still feeling better (YAY!). I took a few notes, tho' I tried more to listen and absorb thru my cells. I loved many things Meenakshi said, but I might have to take up counted cross-stitch again long enough to make a pillow or framed piece of this one:

God gives difficult tests to his advanced students.'s nice to know I'm "advanced!" *wink*



Anonymous Jo :) said...

haha What I would think about more it what happens when the tests are over? :P hehe

It sounds like it was a lovely day. :)

7:39 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

Sounds like a beautiful retreat, and kudos to you for going despite not feeling your best.

I've been feeling unusually fatigued/easily exhausted, too, but hadn't thought it could be caused by the weather! Let's hope this heat and humidity passes soon!

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, dear. Heat and humidity is us...guess a visit here in Louisiana wouldn't be a treat for you.

Glad you were able to go. It sounds like the retreat was the one thing that could help you feel better.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Knitting Linguist said...

It sounds like a truly wonderful day, although I am sorry that you weren't feeling as good as i know you would have liked to. Still I am SO glad that you were able to go, i know how much you have been looking forward to this! Ahimsa is such an important limb of yoga, so easily overlooked in some of the more strenuous practices (including, alas, my beloved ashtaga), it sounds like you got a chance to really practice it yesterday.

1:14 PM  
Blogger La Cabeza Grande said...

"Advanced students." I'm sorry you're flaring but I'm sure you're glad that you were able to push through it to attend the retreat.

Blessing, Sallee. I feel your pain.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous twinsetellen said...

Through your pain, your wrote a lovely post. I felt I was there with you, and wished I could really be in the future someday.

Happy Birthday (a bit late, but anyway...)

9:43 PM  

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