As the door to summer closed, the Fall Equinox appeared like a beautiful pause, a portico leading from one season to the next. Warm sunlight shone down in a generous welcome, clear skies arched above in a ceiling of blue, and the earth below became a threshold of color.
I knew what was coming - the gathering darkness and the gray days - so I lingered in the transition, that liminal, hovering, perfectly balanced state of not-summer and not-fall, not here nor there. Everyday I swam in the creek, basked in the light and felt my skin blush open like fruit on the vine. Isn't this incredible? I kept saying to students, friends, neighbors. Isn't this unreal? Even the air was smiling.
And then, one day, the pause ended, the door shut behind us, and we were pushed into the next room whether we liked it or not. Here, the air was bitten with chill, the light sharpened its angle, and the wind turned up without warning, insistent and unpredictable like a moody housemate. Doors slammed, papers scattered, and the wind chimes, once light and tinkling, clanged manically in the night. Hey! they announced. It's Fall!
Bright, beautiful, bold and abundant. Home to the richest scents, deepest flavors, and ripest offerings, Autumn is a place that invigorates like nothing else, appealing directly to the earthiest and oldest of our senses. In this season, joy and vitality exist for the taking like apples ripening on the tree, waiting to be plucked. And, oh that teeth-tingling sweetness! That juice-dripping crunch!
It is also harsh, cold, withdrawn, and unpredictable. Home of acute anxiety, sharp longing, unsettling dread and thick melancholy, Autumn is that place that cracks open our awareness to death, where nostalgic grief and unforgiving regret can strangle the breath out of us. Often for what seems like no reason at all.
Another year gone, Mary Oliver writes in her poem Fall Equinox,
leaving everywhere its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,
the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows.
Recently, I found myself in those 3 AM Autumn shadows, tripping over the damp, uneaten fruits of my life and stumbling into the crumbling ground of self-doubt, recrimination, and fear. Old stories gusted through my mind. Why did I do this? Why did I say that? I should have known better, should have been clearer, funnier, smarter, lighter, more earnest, more forgiving, less forgiving, quieter, louder, stronger, softer. Nothing seemed right and thinking couldn't make it so. Buffeted by these mental winds, I tossed and turned, my stomach sour and my heartbeat fast.
All the while, my other, higher self - that self for which we open space in our yoga, that self we hope to encounter and honor - waited patiently until I was ready to hear her light, slightly amused voice.
Get up, she said.
Exhausted by my own mind, I listened, swinging my legs over the edge of the bed.
Now get on the floor.
(The voice maybe be quiet, but she knows what she wants!)
I rested on my knees, wrapped in a blanket.
Closer, she said. Closer to your body.
I folded into child’s pose, belly on thighs, forehead on floor, body cocooned warmly into itself.
Now, Mary Oliver writes, is nowhere except underfoot.
As I held myself there on the floor, near the earth, my breath slowed and my awareness moved. From head to foot. From upper to lower. From the past and future to right here and now. Relief. Sweet deep relief.
The extreme offerings of Autumn may whip us high towards manic levels of energy, sometimes manifesting in anxiety or insomnia, but they also invite us to sink down low and soften into the sweet-root, underfoot coolness of the earth. That is where we enter into another room entirely. The Sanctuary of Now. The Temple of Presence. The Refuge of Right Here.
How can we access this dropping down encounter with Now? In just one, totally mundane, you just gotta do it way: practice. In the mood, not in the mood, tired, not tired, sick, healthy, busy, bored, in bed, in the car, with your kids, alone. It doesn’t matter. We need simply to put our bodies into the form that restores us, calms us, and takes us from the door-slamming, chime-ringing sharpness of the brain’s unrest into the quiet sanctuary of slow full breaths and deep presence.
If you have even the slightest self-awareness – and I know you do! - you know exactly what to do for yourself just as my own kinder, wiser self knew. Child’s pose. A quick kick into handstand at the wall. Five minutes of meditation or mantra chanting. Praying, running, hiking, gardening, eating well, resting well, taking a bath, peeling a pile of potatoes. Only you know! Whatever your particular practice, however, let it be something that takes you down, into the body, into the primal presence of your remarkable vessel. It is made from earth, yearns to be near earth, and resonates and restores itself with earth energy.
Now is nowhere except underfoot.
As always, at Catskills Yoga House, you are invited to embody and live fully within your practice just as you are. To faciliate that, we are offering a fantastic roster of classes (a new Wednesday night class!) and several events/workshops over the next couple of months. Come and rest.
EVENTS & WORKSHOPS
Gong Sound Bath with Ricarda O'Conner
Saturday, October 21st * 4:30-6 PM * $20 pre-reg/$25 same day
Be guided by the amazing healer, teacher, and musician Ricarda O'Conner on a journey of sound. A gong bath meditation restores the harmonic field of the body. The sound waves emanating from the gongs come in through your ears, but also move through your body, gently guiding you into deep relaxation. The gongs recalibrate and rebalance the body, mind and spirit, raising your vibration and returning you to your essential resonance. For this event you will 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. The more comfortable your body can be in this experience, the more beneficial the experience. For more about Ricarda, see www.ricardaoconner.com.
Reserve your spot here!
Renew and Restore: A Mother's Practice with Sara Beck
Saturday, November 4th * 2-4 PM
$20 suggested donation
Whether you've had a child three months ago or three years ago or thirteen years ago, you are experiencing what every mother knows to be the "postpartum" life. Before bearing children. After bearing children. These lives may be similar in some ways, but they are undeniably different in others. We experience these changes in our bodies, our minds, our interests, and our hearts. This Mother's Practice - the second in what I hope becomes part of a regular schedule - is intended to help students heal, restore, and energize aspects of the body-heart-mind that have shifted since childbirth. This practice will involve discussion and connection with other mothers, a strong restorative and self-care component, and physical movement that will help to heal and strengthen core and pelvic floor muscle as well as open and release the next and shoulders. Very minimal yoga experience necessary.
Reserve your spot here!
Gentle is the New Strong:
An Exploration of the Subtle Body with Elizabeth Andes Bell
Saturday, November 11th * 3-5 PM
$35 pre-reg * $40 same day
More and more research confirms the deeply healing and restorative powers of slow, gentle movement. Besides enhancing our well being, it increases proprioception, lessens our perception of pain and improves cellular respiration. In addition to these physical benefits, other areas of our being are enhanced, nourished and activated by such movement. Emotional Body skills like deep empathy, Mental Body skills like clear witnessing, and Subtle Body skills like intuitive awareness arise from this type of intentional slowing down and diving deep.
So, get cozy, unwind and give yourself the gift of deep cellular nourishment. Join long time yoga teacher, healer, and creator of Energy Yoga Therapy Elizabeth Andes-Bell for this healing class. All levels welcome!
Reserve your spot here!
Heels over Head for the Holidays:
A Basic Inversions Workshop with Denise Hopkins
Saturday, November 18th * 3-5 PM
$35 pre-reg * $40 same-day
This workshop is back on the schedule after popular demand! In this special class participants will learn to approach strong, well-built inversions from the ground up. Inversions not only require upper body stability but also a deep connection to the core, pelvis, and inner legs. Emotionally, going upside down on our mats can invoke a multitude of feelings, from fear and self-doubt to thrill and exhilaration. Join Denise in taking the leap!
This class is designed for all levels from very new beginners to more advanced practitioners.
Reserve your spot here!
NEW CLASSES and SCHEDULE SHIFTS
Our Fall schedule has begun... and we've added a new class!
Please join Christina Steen every Wednesday night - starting October 11th -
from 5-6 PM for an all-levels open vinyasa class.
Great for making it through the mid-week, hump-day blues, you'll unwind, revive, and restore under Christina's kind, strong guidance.
Please note that open level vinyasa classes on Sundays are now from 10-11:30 AM.
Limited time Only!
Meditation and Chanting guided by Reiki is being offered on Tuesday nights from 6-7 only through November. It's an incredibly special class... try it out! You won't be sorry!
Class cards make great gifts.
$80 for 5 classes, $150 for 10 classes, and $280 for 20 classes. Or buy an unlimited 6 month membership for $650.
(Note a slight increase in cost for 10 and 20 class cards)
Private or semi-private classes
Deepen and customize your own practice, work through a specific injury, create a home-practice, celebrate a birthday or anniversary or have a beautiful, personal experience with a friend or partner. Please email email@example.com for more information. Classes in the studio or on site in your home.
In gratitude for this ground that supports and nourishes us, I am yours in practice,