On January 21st I joined millions of people worldwide to march. Pressing our shoulders together, raising our arms together, harmonizing our voices together, falling silent and praying together, we moved as one body for at least one primary purpose: a belief in equal rights, justice, and safety for all living beings. Stronger Together, read my little cardboard sign, colored hastily with finger paint and a washable marker. The winter sun shone down, warming us each with the same light.
Two weeks later I was taking a walk at my parent’s house in Northern Indiana. It was the gift of a rare moment alone.
“I’ll be right back,” I had told my mom as she fed my son his lunch.
“Take your time,” she said. “I’m here to help.”
I dashed out the door, determined to make the most of my time without cutting into hers too much. I didn’t want to be too reliant. Or ask for too much.
Within minutes I turned my ankle on a rock. I heard the simultaneous pop and crunch of the strained ligament and howled in pain. Almost immediately my mom appeared, helped me into the car and delivered me safely to the couch where I stayed for the better part of three days, diligently resting, icing, compressing and elevating. Indeed, both she and my dad were happy to help. They cooked for me, cared for my son, entertained both of us, encouraged us with their love and humor.
Two are better than one, the Old Testament book Ecclesiastes read, for if either falls, one can help the other up. Though one may be overpowered, it goes on to say, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
How about a cord of 1500 strands? 650,000? Several million?
When I experienced the unified energy of all of those marchers and later looked at pictures of demonstrations from all over the world, I felt the truth of Ecclesiastes on a large, almost unfathomable scale. When I then experienced the uplifting embrace of my family and felt, too, the way my own body and mind were significantly impacted by my ankle – that little out-of- the-way, often ignored knob of bone and muscle - I experienced the truth of it on a smaller, more practical and personal scale. Stronger together. As a human race. As a nation. As a family. As a body.
While the strength of unified intention, the power of silent prayer, and the efficacy of peaceful presence cannot always be measured in immediate tangible results, transformative shifts in the fabric of our interconnectedness do occur. When we choose connection and collaboration, when we share in our burdens as well as our joys – giving, receiving, giving, receiving - the knots that have tangled up this woven tapestry of interdependence can start to unravel and torn strands like strained ligaments begin to knit back together again.
It is subtle, quiet, long-term work. It takes as much diligence and commitment - as much willingness to push through boredom and restlessness - as healing a muscle. We will feel the effects first in the quiet of our own bodies, hearts and minds. And that will ripple out, impacting more than we can ever know.
As Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron writes, All of life is interconnected. If something lives, it has life force, the quality of which is energy… and while we’re living, we share the energy that makes everything - from a blade of grass to an elephant - grow and live. This energy, this life force, creates the whole world.
It is not possible to act alone, though our minds may convince us we are isolated and independent. We move, live, and act within a complicated field of energy. None of us can sigh without impacting the life force of all things. We cannot choose to be connected… we simply are! And so the only choice is whether we will wake up and take responsibility for this interdependence and connection. Will we choose to become aware of how our states of being, our intentions and our actions impact ourselves and others? And once we accept this basic truth, how can we better unite our energies for the purpose of greater peace and justice for all beings?
Our yoga and meditation practice can remind us of these principles by teaching us about our bodies, about what incredible, complicated interdependent systems we all are – and I thank my humble ankle for reminding me to appreciate this! The body constantly gives us feedback, reminding us that we’re healthier and stronger when all the pieces of us harmonize and work together.
This month at Catskills Yoga House we will honor the idea that we are, as individual bodies, and as a human body, stronger together. Plenty of workshops and events over the next couple of months will facilitate opportunities for more unified movement and connection.
EVENTS & WORKSHOPS
Healing and Self-Care with Essential Oils
Saturday, February 4th * 11:45-12:30 * Free
Did you know that essential oils don't just smell great but are such potent medicines that medical research universties such as Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt are studying how they can be used more effectively in treating both everyday ailments and life-threatening diseases? Come to this free casual discussion and learn what scientists, doctors, and medicine people have known for thousands of years! Following my (Sara's) Saturday morning open vinyasa class, I will provide information on how to integrate essential oils into your self-care routine and where to source the only certified pure therapeutic oils on the market so you can start building your home apothecary immediately. 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
ONLY A FEW SPOTS LEFT
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. Please write email@example.com to reserve your spot.
Embodying Presence: How to Ride the Winds of Change with Elizabeth Andes-Bell and Bruce Bell
Saturday, March 4th * 2-5
$35 unlimited memberships/$40 pre-registration/$45 same- day
To be embodied is not an intellectual activity. It is an experiential state of being, expressed through the integration of our feelings, our thoughts, and our hearts. To become embodied is to click into alignment so that we become a direct reflection of Truth... not just our personal Truth, but the Truth of our individual divine nature.
If we want to uncork that wild, pure genius inside each of us - the poet, the healer, the great wise one that's burning to be heard and released - then we must first embody the deep longing in our souls. But how? There is no manual for this work, no one size fits all formula that will lead us into perfect alignment. It is alchemical by nature and relies on the personal and creative use of a variety of modalities: natural, fluid movements, yoga and fascial integration work, touch and hands-on work, sacred dialoguing, verbal processing, magic, and ceremony.... just to name a few!
If you want to cultivate your innate biointelligence, tap into the emotional truths in your body, clear and charge your fascial network, increase your vitality and enhance your well-being, develop core strength and flexible power, deepen your connection to spirit and the wisdom arising within you, then this is the workshop for you!
Join Elizabeth Andes-Bell and Bruce Bell on an exciting journey that will awaken your body as the great sensing organ of your soul. Come prepared to move, sit, talk and share. Please bring a journal. All levels welcome. Please write firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Gong Sound Bath with Ricarda O'Conner
March 11th * 4:30-6 * $20 pre-reg/$25 same-day
A gong bath meditation restores the harmonic field of the body. The sound waves emanating from the gongs come in through the ears, but also move through the body, gently guiding us into deep relaxation. Played by the talented and experienced healer and teacher Ricarda O'Conner, the gongs will recalibrate and rebalance your body, mind and spirit, raising your vibration and returning you to your essential resonance. For this event you may lie down on a yoga mat, close your eyes, and simply let the sound wash over you. Please bring a yoga mat and a pillow and/or a blanket and eye covering if you wish. Please write email@example.com to reserve your spot.
Forrest Yoga Therapeutics: A Self-Care Series with Denise Hopkins
3 Saturdays in April
3-5 PM * $35 for a single class/$95 for the series
Please check future newsletters and the website for more information, but you can expect to explore techniques to heal the back, release neck and shoulder tension, and open the hips. Each class will focus on using deep breathing as a method to work with injuries and as a way towards freeing long-held tensions and emotional holding patterns in the body. We are fortunate to have the talented, intelligent and intuitive Certified Forrest Yoga Instructor Denise Hopkins back in our corner of the Catskills. Please write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
FEBRUARY DEALS and OFFERINGS
BRING A FRIEND FOR FREE WEEK
In honor of Valentine's Day and our theme of the month - Stronger Together - you are invited to bring a friend, a sweetheart, a daughter or son, a mother or father, a sister or brother - to Catskills Yoga House for free. Perhaps he or she has always wanted to try yoga but could never find the time or the money. Perhaps you have been trying to think of a valentine's gift that would be both nourishing and meaningful. Well, this is it! More sustaining than chocolate, more useful than jewelry, more complex than wine - yoga is a gift that keeps giving. Just mention this deal at the check-in.
Class cards make great valentine gifts.
$80 for 5 classes, $140 for 10 classes, and $260 for 20 classes. Or buy an unlimited 6 month membership for $650.
Private or semi-private classes
Deepen and customize your own practice, work through a specific injury, create a home-practice or have a beautiful, personal experience with a friend or partner. Please email email@example.com for more information.
Together with you, in movement and breath,