A year and a half ago I began to pray for the life I am currently living. At that point, however, I was far from knowing what that would exactly be. Due to a series of unexpected shifts, I was in limbo and feeling like an exile from a life I had once known and loved. Separated from my husband, I was between homes, between cities, between jobs, and, as any new parent understands, between identities.
Inspired by the tantric yoga practice of Yoga Nidra and longing to return to the prayer rituals of my youth, I began to pray consistently and repetitively in a way that did not ask for my heart’s desire but rather acknowledged the existence of it already. Called a Sankalpa in Sanskrit, this soul’s resolution, this focused and clear intention, was already a reality. Not something to seek, but here. True. Alive. Moving.
The mind is everything, the Buddha is quoted as saying. What you think, you will become.
So, I filled my mind with a prayer-resolve that went something like this, “Thank you for this incredible life. We are living in a beautiful place, surrounded by nature and a supportive, vibrant community. I work at a job that I love, one that allows me quality time with my son as well as time to write.”
Again and again, I said it. Consciously, on a daily basis, and unconsciously, without ceasing. While I folded laundry and made my bed. While I cooked dinner and loaded the dishwasher. While I celebrated Freddi’s milestones and nursed him in the dark morning hours. While I sobbed for my loneliness, confusion and regret and laughed for the blessings of family, friends, and daily health. The prayer was there, moving from my mind and embedding itself into my cells. Even as I incessantly googled and applied for job opportunities from Brooklyn to Kingston, Northern Vermont to Northern Indiana. Even as no answers came and options formed and dissolved more quickly than the time it took me to say my prayer. The faith and resolution wove together within me, pushing me along. Community. Nature. Work that I love. Time with Freddi. The prayer took on a shorthand that pulsed from me like energy.
The power of resolve focuses and concentrates our thoughts, writes Tantra Yoga teacher Rod Stryker in his book The Four Desires. Those whose thoughts are most unified around an idea or intention, regardless of their field of endeavor, are the ones that invariably accomplish the most.
Nibbling, he goes on to say, is useless.
So, I made focused decisions as well as I could, and though there was much uncertainty, I moved to the Catskills because my heart told me to, however quietly and below the din of other louder, more fearful voices. I trusted the doors that were widening in the tiniest of ways. And I trusted the few hands of support –family, friends, even strangers – that had reached out and promised to hold me through this transition.
My son's father offered us a beautiful cabin on a creek. A friend asked me to teach yoga classes in her new healing center. Friends of friends invited me to barbeques and kids’ birthday parties, and it seemed I was just one degree separated from most of the people I met in my new home, a place I had once thought of as an isolated area.
Life was opening in vivid ways. Still I kept saying my prayer.
Thank you, I began, and more and more I lingered on the gratitude. Thank you for this incredible life.
Six weeks after I moved I received a call from the owner of Chichester Yoga, a studio just three miles down the road from my temporary home. I had subbed there twice, meeting the owner only in passing.
“I’m moving across the country,” she told me. “And I need to pass along my studio.”
"Okay?" I asked, wondering what this had to do with me.
“Would you be interested in buying it?” she asked. “For a dollar?”
When I laughed, she assured me she was serious.
Most of you on this mailing list are on it because you’ve been to the studio at least once. And you know how beautiful this place is. Two acres of land. Gardens of wildflowers. Mountain views. And a creek. Oh, what a creek. Small rapids rushing over terraced boulders to create a tiny waterfall. A swimming hole deep enough for generous submerging. Plenty of stones and sand for endless toddler engagement. Afternoon light that makes your soul vibrate.
Community. Nature. Work that I love. Time with Freddi.
She needed my final answer, she said, in a week.
It may seem obvious – like why did I even need a week? -but I’d never dreamed of owning a yoga studio nor of running my own business (unless it was a bookstore in which case I imagined I could sit around all day and read). Besides, I was just landing and getting a sense of this place and my role in it and it was all happening so fast and there were still plenty of rough spots and confusion and off-centeredness... and and and... My mind spun wildly. Was this the answer to my prayer? Or was it a distraction from it? Is this what my soul wanted... needed... to do? And how could I know that I was focusing on the right desire? That my resolution and prayer was actually aligning with my most evolved path?
The right desires, Stryker explains, drawing on The New Testament as well as the Vedic scriptures, are those that are in line with your higher purpose.
In other words, to know for sure, ask your soul. And then, after that? Take a leap and see what comes.
Three weeks later, I was teaching my first class as the owner of Catskills Yoga House. And one year after that, many firsts under my belt as a small business owner, I have seen my prayer bloom and blossom in ways I could never have anticipated, such is the nature of how we are cared for beyond our imaginations and how our souls, if we tune into them, guide us forward on our path of healing and growth.
To celebrate this miraculous path, Catskills Yoga House is teaming up with our local theater The Phoenicia Playhouse to host a Yoga Mala– a fundraising event in which participants come together to perform and complete 108 sacred sun salutations. All proceeds from tickets sales will benefit the restoration of the theater, this beloved heartbeat of the town.
The Surya Namaskar series, an energizing sequence that links the body, breath and mind, is a perfect way to celebrate and harness our power as a group. As these disparate parts of ourselves become integrated and strengthened through repetitive movement – lift up, bow forward, jump back, release to the earth, press up, come forward, return– our movements become less like a physical activity and more like a prayer.
Yoga teacher Seane Corne reminds us that, “Namaskar means 'to bow,' to recognize with our whole being. Reaching up, bowing forward to the earth in prostration—the meaning is inherent in the movement. Eventually, we are going to have an ecstatic experience of the life force entering the body."
So, it helps to have in mind, at least to start, an intention. It could be for personal healing or to open yourself up to something new, to cultivate a quality you are lacking or to let go of something you no longer need. As a group, our collective energy will support these individual intentions as well as the overall theme of this event which honors the idea that the community we create, we create together. We are individuals creating this whole. Consequently, our group effort will support each individual intention and each individual will nourish the collective intentions of the group.
Read below for more details about the event, but I can tell you, if you’ve never participated in a ceremonial effort of this magnitude, you are in for a treat. If you have, you know how powerful it can be; when we plant seeds with authenticity, hope, and an openness to receive whatever the flowering manifestation of these seeds will be, when we take responsibility for these seeds, by watering them with our sweat, our fire, our energy, and our love – the results will be beyond our wildest expectations.
Please join me in celebrating the manifestation of my own bold prayer and the vital life force of our community by practicing your yoga and meditation in whatever form it takes – watering your garden, making meals, putting your children to bed, paying bills, walking through the woods, or practicing actual postures in our studio. And, I would be honored, above that, to have you at our Yoga Mala and Gong Bath. Little experience required; a big, open heart recommended.
EVENTS & WORKSHOPS
Yoga Mala: The Community We Create, We Create Together
A Fundraiser for the Phoenicia Playhouse and Celebration of our One Year Anniversary
Saturday, August 12th
1:00-5:00 Yoga Mala $40 suggested donation
8-9:30 PM Gong Bath at the Playhouse $20 suggested donation
A Yoga Mala is a community prayer/ceremony/fundraiser comprised of 108 Sun Salutations linked together as a moving meditation in which participants build energy together towards a shared intention. In this case, the celebration of and continued building of the creative life of our community. Teachers from Catskills Yoga House, as well as other studios in the region, will be on hand, guiding, encouraging, assisting, and practicing. Participants are encouraged to be there for the opening invocation and short ceremony before the salutations begin. After that, participants can come and go as necessary, completing as many of the salutations as they would like. With that in mind, all ages, levels and abilities are welcome!
Weather permitting, reiki healing sessions, toddler yoga, and swimming are some of the offerings that will take place outdoors throughout the day. Please write if you'd like to reserve childcare for part or all of the event. Babysitters are on deck to help!
The Yoga Mala will culminate in a very special evening with a gong sound bath by Ricarda O'Conner in the Phoenicia Playhouse. If yoga, swimming, and being in a beautiful setting is not your thing, but being healed and transformed by an incredible musical experience is... then you can't miss this! Plus, you'll get to experience the Phoenicia Playhouse before your donation... so that when the incredible restoration happens, you can say you knew it when and contributed to what it is now.
Or purchase at the studio to avoid a surcharge. For questions and more info please reach out to me, any teachers at CYH or folks from the Phoenicia Playhouse.
Build Your Inversion: A Workshop with Denise Hopkins
Saturday, September 30th * 3-5 PM
$35 pre-reg * $40 same day
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 mat 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
Meditation Guided by Reiki with Thiago de Melo
Tuesdays, 6-7 PM
$15 drop-in or buy a meditation only class card
Receive the powerful, healing benefits of meditation coupled with hands-on Reiki in this unique weekly experience led by certified Reiki Master and teacher Thiago de Melo. The experience will begin with a brief discussion and some instruction about meditation as well as chanting and an opportunity to warm up the body to prepare for sitting. The meditation will last about thirty minutes, during which time students will receive a hands-on Reiki transmission. Together with the Reiki, this meditation practice has the opportunity to open doors to deep inner stillness and healing and enhance one's sense of feeling integrated and connected to others in a sacred and loving space. For more about Thiago, please visit his website.
Summer Mondays with Aaron Dias
Mondays, 10-11:30 AM
(This is in addition to her basic vinyasa class on Friday mornings from 9:30-10:30)
Class cards make great 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, celebrate a birthday or anniversary or have a beautiful, personal experience with a friend or partner. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Classes in the studio or on site in your home.
In celebration of answered prayer and the role that community plays in that, I am yours in movement,