What a wonderful day we all had together at our Spring Awakening Yoga Day Retreat. My second full day retreat and what a lovely time we had. This day was fully booked within three days of announcing the date so clearly everyone had been feeling the need for some “me time”, some rest and rejuvenation!
I was joined on the day by 28 yogis altogether, both men and women, ages ranging from 14 years up to 73 years old and a wide range of abilities and experience levels but all were able to participate in the day fully, even those who had come with injuries!
I themed the day around the transition to Spring, with the Spring Equinox having just passed a few days earlier on Tuesday 20th March 2018. This is celebrated as the first day of Spring and is regarded as the “Festival of Balance and Potential”: “balance” in terms of it marking the point of perfect balance when day and night are equal in length and which leads to a feeling of union and harmony within us, and “potential” in relation to reflecting upon what we might want to awaken in ourselves over the coming months leading from the Spring Equinox to the Summer Solstice.
By tuning into the transitions of the seasons we create the perfect opportunity to align with the powerful energies that Mother Nature and the Earth provide and by combining our yoga practice with the cycles of nature and the seasons this helps to keep us connected to the energy of the Universe.
In itself Spring is a “yang” season as it marks the return of the light, the warm air and the Earth awakening after a long Winter. It is our first opportunity to cast off the layers after an introspective Winter, and to lay ourselves open to new possibilities and opportunities, encouraging us to listen to what is yearning to come forth and blossom within us.
We started our day with an active “yang” practice, generating heat and working towards a few more challenging “peak” postures which were made accessible to all with the use of various props. Postures were sequenced to energetically support the transition to Spring.
Our first session led us through to a break for lunch, after which we resumed our group practice with my first ever group chant. This was a big deal for me as I have wanted to explore kirtan with my students for a long time but I have never felt brave enough. However, I figured now was the time for something bold and brave and so we explored The Mangalam Chant together. Initial reactions as I handed out song sheets were a little uncertain but everyone embraced the practice and supported me by giving their all. The resulting sound was amazing – everyone chanting in sync, opening their minds and their hearts to something new. Really a wonderful experience for me and I hope for everyone who attended!
Our chanting led into a Yin Yoga practice where we took our time to set up postures, to find our edges within the various “shapes” we were making and by resolving to hold the yoga poses for longer and to remain still we allowed our bodies to open up, awaiting an invitation to go deeper. Yin yoga works alongside the principles of the Meridians as in Chinese medicine and so was well suited to our Spring practice exploring the element Wood with its two organs of the Liver and the Gallbladder.
By holding the postures for longer periods of time than would usually be held in a general Hatha practice your body is given time to open up and get deeper into the connective tissues and ligaments and allows for deeper release. Relaxing and challenging all at the same time.
After another short break we moved towards the final part of our day which was our Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep” guided meditation followed by a healing sound bath. Both are designed to the bring the body and the mind to deep states of relaxation and I can definitely vouch for them working. The feeling of peace throughout the room as the Yoga Nidra came to an end and I started with the sound bath was amazing and then everyone was taken to a still deeper level of relaxation through the use of my Tibetan singing bowls and my Paiste planetary gong. The basic idea behind a “sound” bath is that the frequencies and sounds emanating from the bowls and the gong become so complex, resembling a variety of instruments played at once, that the brain struggles to categorise them and so our brainwaves begin to “entrain” to the slower frequencies which in turn slows down our thoughts and encourages us into a deeper meditative Theta State, a state in which healing is possible.
Our sound bath brought us to the end of our day together, it took a good ten minutes in fact to rouse everyone from their deep relaxation but once everyone had returned from their relaxation we closed our practice with a group “Om”.
Just time for a group photo and then everyone slowly made their way home.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the day and I received some lovely feedback. I really enjoyed leading it too and am already starting to plan the next one! ૐ