Autumn: Break Open My Heart

The other morning I woke to a certain quality of gray and a cold wind blowing.  I pulled on a sweater and peered out the back window. The chairs near the creek had tumbled across the yard.  The hammock had flipped.  A watering can lay washed up in the weeds.

Later in the day, the sun burned the dew from the grass and, sweating in its warmth, I swam in the creek.  The light was strong through the leaves, just starting to turn, and I had to use ceiling fans in class to cut through the heat.  By the end of class, however, the crispness of evening chilled the room and a single candle was our only light in the quickly falling darkness.

Hello, Autumn Equinox!  We are at that point in the year when all, for a brief moment, is in balance.  Light and dark in equilibrium.  The seasons sliding into one another with a surreal seamlessness that has us going to bed in one season and waking up in another.  And in this blended season there is a natural beauty so extreme that our hearts can literally ache from the experience of it. 


Edna St. Vincent Millay, an American poet from the first half of the 20th century, in one of my favorite homages to fall, writes:

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!

Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!

Thy mists, that roll and rise!

Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag

And all but cry with colour!   That gaunt crag

To crush!   To lift the lean of that black bluff!

World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

The poet cries out with a longing to cling to this beauty.  To get closer to it, to retreat inside of it, perhaps even to become it.  Later in the poem, though, she pushes it away.  The beauty, the longing.  It’s too much sensation to hold.  She wonders whether God made the world too beautiful this year, and by the end of the poem, she prays that Autumn in its perfection be paused... or not happen at all.  Let fall no burning leaf, she begs, Let no bird call.  If she can’t have this all the time, why have it all? If it must end, why be taunted by such beauty?

Autumm offers an opportunity to ask ourselves how we might meet with such moments of ephemeral beauty and not cling to them.   How we might release our desire for life to be consistent – especially consistently inspiring or easy or enjoyable. Whatever those ideas mean to each of us.  How we might let our hearts open wide enough to let in all experience - highs and lows - without either gripping at what we like or avoiding and pushing away what we don’t want to encounter?

More simply put, Autumn asks us: what is our relationship to change? And how can we support ourselves through times of transition with gentleness, honesty, and some humor?

To speak to those questions and more,  Catskills Yoga House is offering  several exciting events and workshops over the next couple of months:

·      Spread the word about our Studio Warming Party on October 1.  A lot of changes are happening in the space, and I want the community to be in on it!  A half price morning vinyasa class from 10-11:30.  Yummy snacks from 11:30-12:30.  Discounted class cards and membership specials.  Time to lounge by the creek.  And a very special Gong Sound Bath from 4:30-6.  Please call, write or stop by to pre-register for the sound bath as it is filling up! 

·      Let NYC yoga teacher and dietitian Julie Peacock guide you through an incredible Autumnal grounding yoga class on Saturday, October 8.  Then join her for an hour of discussion to learn how nutrition, food, and other self-care practices can support you through this seasonal transition.  Pre-registration strongly recommended to reserve your spot. 

·      Join long-time yoga teacher and energy healer Ricarda O’Conner for her workshop on flowing through and with transitions in your yoga practice on Saturday, October 22.  Learn how to properly and thoughtfully approach your vinyasas and engage with the breath as you do so. It's easy to fake or rush through the transitions between poses - those planks and chattarangas and upward facing dogs - but this workshop with help you approach them with confidence, knowledge, and care for your particular body and practice.

And, as always, we have a full weekly schedule of classes taught by a team of fantastic, knowledgeable teachers.  Unwind with yin, deepen your awareness of alignment and the subtle body with Energy Yoga Therapy, build heat and strength in your core with Lalita Basics, flow and breathe with our vinyasa offerings… there’s something for everyone!

Thank you all for sharing your practice with us at Catskills Yoga House, whether once or on a regular basis.  May you be guided into deeper places of release and relaxation, spaciousness and support in this season to come.

With gratitude for both the wind and the silence, the dark and the light, and all that is shifting both within and without,