There is a small black pearl of a bay tucked behind tall grasses and hidden at the edge of the lake where I spent my childhood summers. Kreibaum's Bay. You had to know it was there to find it, and according to my older brothers, it was a body of water so dark and so deep that no one had ever reached the bottom. Only the bravest had tried.
When I was nearly ten and my oldest brother a teenager, I was – for reasons that remain mysterious – included on a diving excursion with his friends. Hoping to prove my courage, I sat quietly in the boat as we sped across the lake. I summoned my nerve. I stored up my breath. I recorded each moment. How gingerly we navigated through the secret channel. How desperately we rushed to the front of the boat to keep the propeller out of the muck. How suddenly we emerged into the open space of the bay, blinking in the hot sun of this new world and awed by the hush, as if there was something sacred that happened here. Or might.
My bother took my hand and said, We’ll jump first.
I nodded, trying to look tough and casually dipped in a toe.
It’s warm on the surface, he warned, but the deeper you go, the colder it gets.
He squeezed my hand and added, Just keep your arms raised and don’t let go. Together we might be able to reach the bottom.
On three we leapt, the water closing over us as we plummeted down, further, further, colder, darker. When I opened my eyes, I could not see my brother, but I felt his hand, and I let myself trust that he would remain near as I fell. I never asked myself if I wanted to reach the bottom. Or what anyone hoped to find. Or if I could even handle what I might emerge beneath my feet. If I wanted to face the creatures (Snakes! Mudpuppies! Dogfish!) who burrowed in the cold, black muck. I had taken a breath, taken a hand, and taken a leap. (Such is the glory of pre-pubescent courage!)
I fell as deeply as I could into the dark but finally, out of breath and freezing cold, I ripped my hand from my brother's and propelled myself back to the surface, the light invigorating each kick. When I burst through the water, I was met with a cheer, a towel, and the sense that I had accomplished something great. What it was or what it meant or what I had to show for it, I wasn’t exactly sure. But I was elated anyway. I had taken a risk - I had been through something, encountered the unknown - and in some small way I knew I would never be the same.
The new moon on Sunday was in Scorpio, the dark water sign that challenges us to cut through the surface of things and dive into the dark, unsavory places in ourselves, our lives, our hearts, our psyches. Scorpio’s deep reserves of emotional energies are said to be magnetic and powerful, unafraid to plumb the realities of life, to face the challenge of death, and to embrace the gruesome work of rebirth and transformation. As we enter November - the days shortening, the darkness lengthening - and as winter’s barrenness beckons, we are invited to heed this call and dive into our depths. We all have them. Many layers of warmth and cold, of light and shadow, of joys and wounds. Who really knows what lies at the bottom? Or what we will go through to get there? Have we ever been brave enough to look? To really look? And can we expect to grow without doing so? It helps to have a hand to cling to. A big sibling guide who invites you in to these uncertain places with a steady presence. Yet, ultimately, we swim through the layers of ourselves alone, honoring what we find and emerging with a strength, a faith, and a resilience that is our true singular nature.
We will be exploring this idea of diving into the unknown this month at Catskills Yoga House, and I invite you to see your yoga practice as a type of guide, the physical postures and movements like a kind hand that can lead you into ever deeper layers of your physical body and your heart-mind. In support of your diving expeditions, we are offering some great classes and workshops over the next few months:
An Introduction to Essential Oils
Sunday, November 13 * 10:45-11:45 * Free
Invigorate your health and support your well being in these darkening, windy days with the amazing resource of essential oils. I, along with my sister Julie Peacock, a yoga teacher, dietitian, and wellness consultant, 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.
Lean in/Lean Out: Letting Go of the Conflicts We Carry in Our Bodies
A Master Class with Elizabeth Andes-Bell
Sunday, November 20 * 11:00-1:00 * $25
Our bodies are systems responding to a constant stream of sensation and perception. Our muscles, bones, organs, fluids and fascial systems coordinate our responses in harmony with thoughts and emotions. Our bodies are also energy and awareness in flow. Thus, we are constantly shaping ourselves in a dialogue with gravity, time and circumstance. When we access the fluid matrix, the ground substance of our cells, our bodies let go of the habitual collapses and conflicts we build inside our bodies and our psyches. In this master class, held during her normal Sunday class time, Elizabeth will lead students through an exploration of physical, energetic and mental processes that will subtly shift alignment, thus supporting subtle moment-to-moment transformation. This class is filling up, so please write email@example.com to reserve your spot!
Reinhabiting Ourselves: A Workshop for Mothers with Lara Kohn Thompson
Saturday, December 3 * 2:00-5:00 * $60
Sunday, December 4 * Private Movement Sessions Available
In pregnancy and childbirth our bodies are reborn, and the postnatal period offers an exciting opportunity for us to establish new patterns. Open to all moms postpartum and beyond (not just for new mothers!), this workshop will offer a deeply restorative and energizing yoga practice, core-strengthening exercises that will address the areas most impacted by pregnancy and birth, and time for discussion on how we can integrate the various aspects of our postpartum selves: the physical, the emotional and the spiritual. Lara will also be available for private bodywork and movement sessions on December 4th. Visit Lara's website to learn more about her decades of experience as a dancer, yoga instructor, massage therapist, and pre and post partum movement specialist. You must pre-register for this workshop, so please write firstname.lastname@example.org to do so.
Please also mark your calendars for events in the not so-distant future of 2017:
New Year’s Day Gong Sound Bath with Ricarda O’Conner
Sunday, January 1
Thai Massage Workshop with Leigh Evans
Saturday, February 11
Women’s Goddess Retreat with Alison Sinatra
Saturday, February 18
And in the nearer future of 2016, please consider CYH as a one stop for personal growth, transformation, AND holiday shopping. Seriously, when you consider what your yoga practice means to you (or is starting to mean, if you are a new practitioner), what better gift can you give than the experience of yoga?! CYH offers membership and class card specials as well as gift certificates for group classes and private instruction. I'll also have some essential oils and other goodies for sale in the coming weeks. Finally, stay tuned for our updated winter schedule, which will go into effect around the first week of December. Until then, please visit our website for the times and descriptions of our great weekly offerings.
Taking a deep breath and diving into the murky depths, I remain yours, in movement,