I have arrived in Colorado and will be teaching online from here through mid-July.
Each morning since arriving here I’ve practiced asana and yoga nidra outside to the sound of birds and wind in trees, and the occasional car or dog bark. It’s felt like a nice long sigh after the intensity of the last year.
I was reminded in a training I revisited last week that these practices come from ancient sages, known as reishis, who thousands of years ago observed that the same qualities found in nature are within us. For so long I carried that as a nice idea in my mind that I couldn’t fully relate to my own experience in a deep way. I think it was in part because so much of my practice was done indoors and I for so long sought to know more through books over my own experience.
That started to change as I began practicing outdoors and observing nature on my walks or through the changing seasons. I experienced how wind has a scattering effect on palm fronds and my own mind. I noticed how I could feel my feet anchored to ground to find inner steadiness.
Yoga is a practice that doesn’t ask us to believe in something, rather it invites us more fully into our own experience of life. Nature offers the same invitation.
We are a heady culture. It is easy to lose ourselves on a computer screen or in books and forget to take time feeling the ground beneath our feet or sensing our inner experience through sensations. We rely so much on books and a “way to do things” that we often discount our own experience.
For many of us, the summer season calls us to step outside and into our own experience of the world around us: the warmth of sun on skin, the grittiness of sand under toes, the sweetness of berries.
Yesterday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, which since ancient times has been celebrated across different cultures as a time of abundance and a day to honor the sun as the source of life.
As we move into the heat of summer, we will explore how the warmth of the sun can allow us to deepen into stretch poses during the lazy days of summer. We will also begin to explore forward folds, which can be a challenge for many. How we move into these poses determines to a great deal how we experience them. When we can incorporate them into our practice, they can calm our mind and cool our body during hot summer days.
But I invite you to explore your own experience in them without making your experience wrong. I invite you to use your practice to understand yourself in a deeper way without making yourself wrong.
As those reishis meditated on nature, it is said that mantras were revealed to them. The Surya Gayatri Mantra recognizes light as the source of life, that there is a light as bright as the sun within each of us. That when we touch into that light within we can move through what feels dark or heavy, we can see ourselves and life more clearly.
Om bhur bhuvah svah
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devaysa dhimahi
chino yo nah prachodayat
deva premal and miten do a beautiful version of it you can listen to here.