There are few experiences more sweeter and profound than gathering within a community of compassionate yogis, and exploring the various trials and tribulations found in our quest for whole health. This past weekend at the Holistic Yoga School, I participated in a weekend retreat, led by Liz Peters. Our shared intention was to explore the “Art of Living”: how it looks, feels and exists in our lives and long our yogic paths.
As a veteran yoga teacher, I was uncertain as to what the weekend would offer me and had hoped only for the compassionate comradery of like-minded yogis, some quality asana practice and daily tips for how to quiet the seemingly relentless, incessant chatter within my mind. What I found within the weekend, was abundant sweet and simple reminders of how yoga applies to everything in my life and just how easy it is to access the natural healing powers within me; the ones that were always there, and about which I had forgotten. The power of my thoughts, my gratitude and my optimism are endless vessels for my growth.
I was reminded once again, that whole health is nothing more than living in alignment, in body, mind and spirit. It is making choices each and every day to be mindful and aware, and to choose my path of wellness. It is pausing my anxiety-ridden mind with my breath and returning to the present moment; and from that space, hearing the deepest desires of my heart. Out of the stillness and without control, are my true desires, and all I have to do is listen; how simple and sweet, could this actually be?
I was reminded also of how to be mindful in each and every moment in my life and how to attune to my five senses: sight, smell, sound, vision and touch. How vastly different a walk along the busy Spring Creek trail is on a sunny Saturday afternoon, when all I focus on is the sweet smells of moist grass and blooming flowers.
I was reminded then of my chakra system and the various ways in which I cause imbalance, by not speaking my authentic truth and by holding onto the negative, toxic emotions of hatred and regret. Through certain asana poses, I could replenish my depleted heart or throat chakra, bringing my body, mind and spirit, into balance once again – naturally: without pills, medication or external validation. All I had to do was slow down, pause, breath and welcome the messages of my body.
Perhaps the most profound realization of the retreat was that of “Ahimsa.” This idea of causing no harm and of spreading love and joy into the world. Years ago in my teacher training, I was first introduced to ahimsa and thought only that it meant adopting a vegetarian lifestyle and treating others with compassion. Upon deeper introspection and with reverence, I was reminded that the truest way I can practice ahimsa is by loving myself. By sending myself loving thoughts of self-acceptance, forgiveness and understanding, I am choosing to practice ahimsa at the highest level. To me, choosing the path of yoga and of holistic health, begins with unconditional and unwavering self-love. Ahimsa is practiced for me, when I treat myself with the same loving compassion as I do my best friend or my new puppy and when I choose to surround myself with loving thoughts, people and community. It is from this space, in the stillness of my mind, and supported by my breath, that I return to my deep wisdom of living in alignment: my art of living