I went to bed on New Year’s Eve as usual –10:30 PM - and woke up on New Year’s Day as usual – 7 AM. I scanned my reality.
Stiff hip. Check. Sore throat. Check. Wide-eyed, baby face alarm clock. Check. “Get up, Mama!" It chirped. "Get up!”
And so the day, like any other, began.
I love an excuse to start over as much as anyone else. To claim a fresh moment where I can reset, renew, and recommit. Along with that comes a flow of hope where boredom, impatience, and despair might have been gaining ground. A surge of productive energy powered by I wills and I cans and I shoulds. It'seven better if this reset is accompanied by some kind of strong drink and celebratory ceremony involving fire, ash, and smoke. Goodbye to the old. Hello to the new.
But this year more than ever I had the sense that January 1st was a new day not too different than any other new day and that the challenges of the past year would not be easily dissolved with a surge of caffeine, a bold list, and a box of matches. This year I sensed the need not for more or different actions, things, or accomplishments, but rather for a subtle shifting of perspective to see what I already have, what I am currently in the process of building, and what, in fact, is continually renewing itself each day, each moment, and each breath. A need to listen to and absorb sensitively the unique voice of my body-heart-mind so that when necessary I can act from a place of genuineness and gentleness. Not from restless reactions, wishes, wants, and what ifs.
The theme of this month at Catskills Yoga House is Reality Check. And I don’t mean that in a harsh, kick in the pants kind of way. On the contrary, I’ve found that one of the best ways to truly encounter and engage with reality (outside of being forced by external circumstances, which usually does come as a kick in the pants) is to simply sit still and become soft, quiet, and curious. And then to let the door of our inner space open. What do we see? What do we hear? What is clamoring to be noticed? What are our habitual reactions to that thing that is clamoring to be noticed? Then we keep breathing. Keep sitting. Keep watching. Keep listening. Notice what changes and shifts simply with our honoring of its existence.
This tuning into the mind’s cacophony and the body’s live-wire frequency, is, in very simplified terms, meditation.
Sharon Salzberg, one of my meditation teachers, writes that one day she asked a friend of hers how meditation practice had impacted his life and he said that before starting to practice everything in his mind felt like it was taking place in a small, dark, enclosed theater and that everything happening on that stage seemed overwhelming and solid. However, since he’d started to meditate regularly, his awareness of what happened in his mind was like watching an opera in an open-air theater.
Meditation first allows us to see what is happening. That’s the reality check part. Then, through practice, it enlarges our perspective and allows us to discover a quality of space that knows no bounds and a mind that can accept anything… whether it’s January 1st or 31st. And so I invite you this month not to imagine a more glorified version of who you could be in the coming year but to meet yourself more honestly and more gently exactly where you are. And to celebrate that.
We will be supporting such encounters in the coming weeks by weaving in more meditation to our class offerings and by offering the following great workshops and events at Catskills Yoga House:
Deepen into Yin: Anatomy Study and Practice with Will Leblanc
Friday, January 13th * 4-8 PM * $40
For yoga teachers and curious practitioners alike, this workshop offers an exploration of the essence and fundamentals of yin yoga. What are the qualities of this quiet, slow, deep practice and how do we move into the inner space of our own body’s intelligence? Prepare to study, among other things, the story of yin yoga's emergence in a world of activity, the role fascia plays in yin postures, and the philosophy behind this style of yoga. Included in the workshop will be a two-hour class to explore and integrate the concepts and ideas presented. For those who take Will's weekly class, you know you are in for an experience of great learning, deep insight, sweet, relaxation, and good-natured humor. Write Info@catskillsyoga.com to reserve your spot.
An Evening of Yoga and Meditation for Standing Rock
Thursday, January 19th * 6-7:30 PM * class card or $15
Joining with several other yoga studios throughout the Catskills and The Hudson Valley, I will be donating the proceeds of our Thursday night renew/restore class to those at Standing Rock who are cultivating peace even as they fight for justice and the preservation of our Great Mother. Please come, practice, meditate, donate and show your support through our moving meditation and intention. A donation jar will be available throughout the month of January in case you cannot participate in the class but you'd like to donate.
An Introduction to Essential Oils
Saturday, February 4th * 11:45-12:30 * Free
Invigorate your health and support your well being in these cold, winter days with the amazing resource of essential oils. Following my Saturday morning open vinyasa class, I will be leading a casual discussion about how to integrate essential oils into your self-care routine and where to source the only certified pure therapeutic oils on the market. Please write firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know if you're coming.
Women’s Goddess Retreat with Alison Sinatra
Saturday, February 18th * 12-6 * $75
Come for a restorative and comforting day of connecting with yourself and other women. Alison, with over a decade of experience as a yoga teacher and leader of women's circles, is known for her warmth, intelligence, and humor as well as her ability to hold sacred, healing, love-filled space. She will draw on the energy of the water and woods to help us work with (not against) the quiet, soft, and introspective space that winter creates. Through asana, prayer, conversation, meditation and song, we’ll be held by winter’s softness and emerge feeling rested and restored. Expect a delicious snack as well! This is a perfect event to attend alone or with a sister, friend, mother or daughter. This event is filing up fast, so please write email@example.com to reserve your spot.
Extended through January 30th, six month unlimited yoga memberships are available for $600. After January 31st, they will cost $650.
Beautifully packaged introductory kits of certified therapeutic pure grade essential oils available now for $25. Begin building your apothecary with lemon, lavender and peppermint oils.
Class cards make great self-care gifts.
$80 for 5 classes, $140 for 10 classes, and $260 for 20 classes.
Private or semi-private classes are a great way to deepen and customize your own practice or have a beautiful, personal experience with a friend or partner. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Finally, our friends at WOODSTOCK HEALING ARTS are open for business! They have kindly offered a 10% discount to all community members of Catskills Yoga House for a first session. Check out their website to explore their wide-ranging holistic offerings and amazing practitioners.
All my blessings for a new year that feels spacious in its reality and delightfully surprising in the shifts that come.
Yours, in movement,