What You Need to Know About Yoga at the First Against the Stream Women’s Retreat
When I saw that my dharma family was doing their first women’s retreat, I was inspired. I have been wanting to go on a meditation retreat for a long time but life and time didn’t always accommodate me. Mary Stancavage and JoAnna Harper of Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society have been working their tails off to make this happen, and it was magnificent. They led this group of women with grace and compassion, wisdom and care. Our cushions were placed in a circle, we practiced in silence, created an altar with personal and found desert objects and connected deeply to ourselves as women walking the dharmic path.
I was honored to be able to teach yoga on this retreat. Sharing the practice with so many women felt particularly special. Here we were, working intimately with our internal states, together, but in silence while maintaining our autonomy. Yoga was the space where we could move and shake and breathe with the same mindful intention, meeting ourselves on the mat EXACTLY WHERE WE WERE.
Sitting on cushions (zafus) or chairs or in backjacks takes a toll on the hips, back and neck. Our bodies send us messages that need our attention. Even with walking mindfully, there is some physical stagnation. But yoga is so much more than just moving our bodies. After a night of heart opening metta (lovingkindness) practice, moving on our mats to physically open our heart space complements the internal state. Yoga allows us to honor and investigate our felt sense — the embodiment of our sensory, energetic, and emotional landscapes, by bringing kind awareness to the connection of our mind and body and breath. When we bring awareness to our seat on the floor, the air against our skin, the weight of our body on the mat, we are grounding ourselves in the present moment. When we place our hands on our hearts, it triggers the release of oxytocin in the body, our nervous systems start to soften, responding as it does when we are hugged.
I came away from that retreat full: of love, of gratitude, of awareness, of presence. I look forward to practicing with you! I am available for privates and small groups.
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