Ahimsa (non-violence) is the first of ten moral principles in yoga. Martin Luther King demonstrated that it was possible to bring about change using non-violent methods. He was strongly influenced by Gandhi who used passive resistance to overthrow the British. Gandhi was influenced by the Bhagavad Gita, which teaches us to look inside ourselves and see our connection to everyone and everything and to live our lives accordingly.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and see the hotel room and balcony where MLK was shot and killed. The experience left a powerful impression on me. It was reminder that hate and violence come from ignorance.
In honor of MLK, let us commit to learning more about ourselves, to looking inside and seeing where we hold onto violence. Can we release our prejudices by finding our common humanity in others? Can we overlook petty things? Can we see the inherent goodness in people and in nature? When we discover our own essential virtues, we can better understand others and foster peace in all our communities.
Happy Martin Luther King Day! – Lori
On our final day of the retreat, we spent the morning with Tias doing back bends and the early afternoon with Surya in restorative yoga leading to pranayama. Tias led us through some great preps to ultimately ease us into a spacious urdhva dhanurasana. It was a strong, empowering practice which opened the rib basket for the breath work to come. After the break, Surya relaxed our nervous systems and quieted our minds to prepare for simhasana and sanmukhi mudra with brahmari. Her feminine energy was just what we all needed at the end of our 3 days of yoga. We left feeling nurtured and cared for.
That evening many of us headed up to Ten Thousand Waves Spa to soak in the tubs and get body treatments. Tony and Leia, Lynda C. (who we now refer to as Sri Carr Carr, inside joke) and Linda T. all did the head to toes treatment. Amy, Bonnie and Jen had massages. Lori S. indulged in multiple treatments. After soaking in the foot baths and visiting with Tony, I had a yasuragi head treatment. My therapist, Joseph, was from New York. It was funny to hear his tough Bronx accent gently reminding me to exhale and relax as he applied warm oils to my scalp. I then had a master massage with Bok. One of the best massages I ever had! I left feeling so completely relaxed. We all agreed it was the perfect ending to a fabulous retreat.
We have already booked next year for another retreat. Tentatively July 16-18, 2013. Keep your eyes posted – we’ll post the flyer as soon as we get everything organized.
Just wrapped up a nourishing day to remember. We began with a hike led by Nicolai Bachman at Rio en Medio, an oasis of unusually fertile ground here in the High Desert. I felt like I was hiking in Oregon as the surroundings were moist from recent rains and shaded. We followed a trail along a creek that ended at a waterfall. The hike including lots of shallow creek crossings, just enough to add some adventure without any danger. We took advantage of the stone cliffs next to the waterfall – chanting while facing the stone created a powerful vibration of resonating sound. I took lots of pictures. It was so beautiful and peaceful and the plant life was always changing. Sunny areas held cactus, and the dappled shade was a haven for wildflowers and wild fruits. Leia ate as many wild raspberries as she could find. Groves of ponderosa pines smelled of vanilla and the pine needles provided a soft blanket beneath our feet.
We got back just in time to eat a sack lunch and then headed to Tias’s for an asana practice to counter our morning hiking activities. My legs felt relief within a short time and, as usual, Tias had some creative new approaches to forward bends.
We had a little time off, then a few of us ate an early dinner at Jambo Cafe (I highly recommend!) I had a Moroccan stew with raisins and sweet potatoes in it that was so delicious and flavorful. Trip advisor gives Jambo Cafe top rating and deservedly so!
In the evening we went back to Tias’s, this time for an unusual class with Nicolai and Surya Little. Surya Little guided us in supported restorative poses. As we relaxed into each pose, Nicolai chanted some of his favorite chants. It was a transformative experience for many of us. I just loved it! Being fully relaxed and supported allowed the sound vibrations to deeply penetrate. And the sincerity of Nicolai live chanting was significantly more powerful than just putting on some chanting CD. You could feel the prana of sound in a way that no recording could ever provide.
We ended the evening with agni hotra, an ancient Vedic fire ceremony where you throw rice into a fire of cow dung fueled with ghee. As you throw the rice offering into the fire, you think of something in your life you want to transform. The burning of the rice represents the transformation of your thought.
What a special day for all of us. One I will always remember. It was deeply healing for me. – Lori Gaspar
Our retreat began with silent meditation and a Japanese koan discussion with Tias Little about a few ideas the koans brought up. The value of direct experience and learning cellularly, not just cognitively, to embody deep wisdom. The understanding that this special event will only happen once so give it your full attention, your care, your gratitude. Nothing ever repeats itself– each moment, each breath, each event will never happen again. And the value of not overdoing, over-planning, to allow for the spontaneous to happen.
We then hit the mat for an active asana practice emphasizing inversions after our travel, twists and broadening the mid-back. After an outdoor lunch on the temple grounds, Nicolai Bachman taught us mantra recitations focusing on the bija mantras. We learned what mantra to use and when. If you want to attract something into your life, use klim.
We headed back to the hotel to relax and Amy and Jen invited everyone to their room to sample Amy’s husband’s wonderful wines. Then a group headed to Cafe Pasqual’s for a fabulous meal capped off with shared desserts: piñon ice cream with caramel sauce, chocolate cake and lychee nuts. I liked the ice cream best.
I took just a few photos today… flowers in Tias’s garden, the end of our asana practice and our group at Cafe Pasqual’s.