We just had our Winter Warmer Yoga Day Retreat this weekend – the first time I have run a workshop to celebrate Winter in fact but we were lucky with the weather and were thankfully toasty warm in our venue.
This was my fifth full day yoga retreat and yet another lovely day with so many like-minded people. The idea of coming together around this time was to celebrate the transition to the New Year, to nourish ourselves by detoxing and cleansing our bodies after the festivities of Christmas and New Year and to use our yoga practice and the various techniques that we explored to support our bodies and minds during Winter.
We started our day with a seated heart-centred meditation, giving everyone a chance to turn their awareness inwards and to connect with their heart’s longing and then we continued with an active “yang” practice sequenced to allow us to generate heat as well as working towards a few more challenging postures which were made accessible to all with the use of various props and modifications. In addition to yoga postures our morning session included a cleansing kriya which everyone seemed to enjoy and some breathing techniques suitable for Winter as well as a lovely long Savasana.
Our first session led us through to a break for lunch after which we resumed our group practice with a short Kirtan session. Each yoga day I have tried to introduce a new chant and this time we had a look at the Om Asatoma mantra and we joined our hearts and voices together trying something new and connecting through sound. It was lovely to share my love for Kirtan and devotional chanting with those who attended and everyone joined in as best they could.
Our chanting led into an exploration of a couple more pranayama (yogic breathing) techniques that encourage the body to generate heat, thus ideal for the colder months, and then we continued with a Yin Yoga practice that was sequenced to stimulate our Kidney and Urinary Bladder meridians that are associated with Winter. With our natural inclination in Winter being to slow down, become less active and spend more time indoors, this makes a Yin Yoga practice ideal at this time. As is crucial in a yin practice, we took our time to set up the postures, found our edges within the various “shapes” we were making and held the postures for longer, remaining still as we allowed our bodies to open up, awaiting an invitation to go deeper.
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 which allows for deeper release. Relaxing and challenging all at the same time and all of which leads to an extraordinarily deep sense of relaxation in Savasana.
After another short break we moved towards the final part of our day which was our sound bath. As time has gone by I have continued adding to my “soundscape” using a combination of various instruments including my Frame Drum, my Quartz and Tibetan singing bowls, my chimes, my planetary gong and my Tingsha in order to take everyone to a still deeper level of relaxation.
Our sound bath brought us to the end of our day together and once everyone had been roused from their deep relaxation we closed our practice with a group “Om”.
Another lovely day spent with so many wonderful people – I received so much lovely feedback from many of those attending and it really was such a pleasure to share all that I love with those who chose to join me. ૐ