PERHAPS you've heard your yoga teacher tell you, just as you were settling into a posture....
Root down and rise up. Reach out and let go. Engage to strengthen and release to soften.
...and you then thought, Um... what?
The instructions we hear while moving through a class can sometimes feel distracting in their abstractness, something to enflame the brain rather than to be embodied. Which thing should we focus on: the rooting down in the feet or the reaching up through the crown of the head? If we engage in the legs, where and how are we supposed to also soften? Is it even possible to move with such clarity and precision while also letting go? And then once we settle into our best possible alignment, it's likely time to move on to the next shape.
When I practice in the studio at Catskills Yoga House, I have only to look out the windows and study the Autumn trees for guidance. Mixed in among the steady evergreens is an operatic composition of color so transcendent I can almost hear its vibration. Golden-threaded tenors and burnt orange baritones. Scarlet sopranos and chocolate brown basses. The trees singunapologetically from their slope behind the creek, made for just this moment of glory.
And then the wind blows, the leaves scatter and the song fades. The trees do not resist this sudden change, but remain rooted, even as their leaves twist and turn and float away from them. Steadily, they bear witness to their own transformation and the letting go that goes along with it.
I breathe and attempt to stand in Vrksasana – tree pose - rooting into the sole of my standing foot, reaching up with my arms, softening the skin of my fingertips, swaying and trying not to grip, falling and trying to smile, watching it all with a gentle gaze and trying not to worry or judge. And then, of course, relaxing the trying, too.
This is just what happens, the trees seem to say. One day we’re at our peak, the next the wind blows away our glorious offering. Soon there comes a different beauty. Soon a new growth. Another beautiful composition. Another end. And so on. It’s just what happens. Relax.
The theme of the month here at Catskills Yoga House is balance, and we've been exploring how relaxing into the present moment may be the quickest way to find it. To further this exploration we are offering some fantastic workshops over the next couple of months.
A Workshop with Ricarda O'Conner
October 22** 3-5 ** $35 pre-reg/ $40 same day
In this two hour workshop led by long time yoga teacher Ricarda O'Conner, you will learn (or re-learn) the fundamental art of transitioning within your asana practice. How can we move thoughtfully and with ease from, for example, Down Dog to Plank, from Warrior 1 to Warrior 2, from High Lunge back to the floor? How, too, can we choose the appropriate vinyasa for our body type, our skill level, our energy level? And even when we know which vinyasa we'd like to try - knees-chest-chin or chattaranga, cobra or upward facing dog, for instance - how can we be sure we're inhabiting that pose with precision and care and with our particular bodies in mind? Through practice, discussion, and the careful unpacking of poses, Ricarda will guide you with her signature warmth, humor, and intelligence to a place where you will feel revitalized and confident in your vinyasa practice. Come with your questions, please!
A Master Class with Elizaeth Andes-Bell ** November 20 ** 11-1 ** $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 self-transformation.
December 3 ** 2-5 ** $60
December 4: Private consultations 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, 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.
For any and all of these workshops, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot or set up an appointment.
And don't forget to check out our great roster of classes offered all week long, morning and night, for all levels of experience. Ask about our private instruction and membership and class card options, and join this beautiful community of people interested in finding balance within this journey of self-discovery and transformation.
I promise... our view from tree pose is worth a stack of philosophy books!
Always and ever seeking a light and joyous balance,