Tuesday, July 14, 2015

18. Go on a Yoga Retreat or Take a special yoga Workshop – CHECK

I checked off #18 on my list while I was at the Haven writing retreat in Montana. After mornings of discussing and practicing the craft of writing, our afternoons were designed to get out of our heads and into our bodies. That notion has become a theme for me and the reason there are so many physical activities on the 4040 list.

I signed up for the two-hour yoga class. When I first began practicing yoga, I was hesitant about taking a class from anyone other than the two teachers I was familiar with. Now four years later, I welcome the opportunity to practice with new teachers. It feels adventuresome to not know exactly what to expect and I always learn something(s) new. My time with Samantha in the yoga studio on the Walking Lightly Ranch was no exception.

There were just two of us writers in this afternoon class. The windows were open and we were serenaded by a choir of birds hanging out in the trees around the building.

We began class on our backs, connecting with our breaths and sinking into the experience. Samantha guided us to consider the space from the crown of the head to the pelvic floor being the bridge that links our bodies to our thoughts and soul. She described it much more beautifully than I am here, but I was trying to be present in the moment and didn't have notepaper and pencil next to me. Part of that “getting out of your head” thing. I stayed present in my breath and body, but knew I was hearing something very cool and wanted to remember at least a bit of it for writing about later.

During a different part of class, we stood with our feet hip width apart. Here was my second new insight. I'd had a different notion of what hip width was. Before this class, I had measured hip width by the ball and joint at the point where the leg meets the backside, so the stance would be wider. When Samantha said hip width, she referenced the bones on the front of the body near the abdomen. From this perspective, one's feet are much closer together. As I was making this discovery, I was reminded how yoga teaches body awareness in a way I have never experienced before.

Which leads to another form of body awareness on that day. By the time I was taking this class I had been eating vegan for three days and my digestion was in havoc. My polite term for this is digestive distress. While I was uncomfortable and wishing I was feeling better, it was also an opportunity to reflect on the experience of eating such delicious, nourishing food lovingly made by our cook, Michelle, and to practice breathing through difficult, uncomfortable moments. This has been one of the enduring lessons yoga has brought into my life, and the one that keeps finding me off the mat.

Two hours passed. It was amazing how it went quickly and slowly all at once. Except for the digestive distress, I was not ready for the class to end. It felt so good to breathe deeply, move gently, and to continue to process the intense experience of the writing retreat.

I'm thrilled that the 4040 list intersected with my Haven retreat. Both experiences continue to profoundly shape me.

Just 23 items left to mark off the list.

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