Once again we traveled back from the East coast, west across the continent to New Mexico and the beautiful home of Charlie and Zoreh where we had one day to rest and receive an Ayurvedic massage from Melissa Spammer before starting the four day teaching event with Rama Joti Vernon.
Here at Kripalu there is so much beauty to be found in Nature, rolling hills, mountains in the distance, forests and a shimmering lake in the sunlight. The last apples had almost all fallen, just a few still clung to their branches reminding me how I still cling to some old ideas, expectations and fears. In America what we Europeans call Autumn is for them "the Fall'..... a perfect word for this time of year when Nature lets fall her fruits and we can shed the clutter of old emotions and memories allowing them to compost into the soil and become food for new inspiration and creation!
Some of the fallen apples were still edible, juicy and delicious. There is always so much more taste and freshness in what we pick or gather than what we buy at the Supermarket and has been sitting in a box or plastic bag for some days!
I believe that the same is with Yoga practice and teaching...it has to be fresh and what we find in the moment to feel deeply satisfying, not a repetition of something we did before or remember a teacher giving out in a class no matter how good it felt then.
Letting go the role of 'teacher' and simply meeting these wonderful souls who have chosen, saved their money, made arrangements at home or work and taken the time and energy to get here is indeed a miracle and a meeting.
The rest follows and emerges, revealing itself in surprising ways that push us to the edge and flood over the gates of resistance.....a happening, a discovery and each day a sense of immense gratitude and understanding.
Kripalu is huge with several workshops and retreats running at the same time. Hundreds of people taking yoga, meditation, self-help and other classes, eating organic meals and staying in rooms or dorms.
It sometimes feels like an enormous ship at sea and I wonder how it all seems to work, the coming and goings of groups and teachers, all the schedules and meals, sleeping arrangements and finances not to mention the problems that arise with maintaining and old building....the chaos that could happen but doesn't!
Perhaps it is the seed of Swami Kripalu's legacy, his being and teaching that somehow invisibly permeate and touch all those of us who pass through its doors.
I was so lucky to have Ilana and Liza as assistants for both retreats as the numbers reached 82 at the weekend and 45 for the Womens' three day event. Ganesha was very present as we worked with the base Chakra to feel more grounded and energised, opening to the earth and then to our inner power. Several animals and birds appeared as helpful images to open and move, to deepen and uncover 'our inner creature'! We stretched and danced, spreading our Heron wings. We found our snake, the spine winding and unwinding memories and tears through the body. As layers fell away we laughed and dared to be outrageous at last!!
Krishna the Indian God of Love was not far away as I sat cross-legged in a corridor to talk on Skype with Victor who was teaching in Rochester. Even in a Yoga Institute we can be grateful for the Internet to keep the threads of life and love alive, no matter if people are stepping over you and the sound or image keeps fading!
The first day was for women only... a warm and beautiful experience with sharing and deepening into practice as well as some lively movement. There are no photographs of the class as it would have been disruptive to the intimate atmosphere when people are in their own personal process of unwinding and healing.
Our visit to Yellow Springs coincided with the glorious colours of 'Fall". This little Maple tree was at its best and just outside Patricia and Andrew's living-room.
Here is the altar that some of the students added to each day with colourful leaves and other treasures.
In this photo almost everyone had left on the last day but a few were left and here you can see Patricia..front left... and Andrew standing in a pink shirt. Victor might be saluting or perhaps a fly landed on his forehead!
When we first came to the USA many many years ago the teaching was mostly about technique and training but now most students have found their own practice and we are more concerned with the 'energy body' and an internal exploration. This is both exciting and challenging and the classes are deeply rewarding. We loved our time with old and new friends at Namaste!
From Harbin we went up to Vancouver Island, BC, Canada to see my brother David and his wife Ulana. Here is David. He is a professor of Oceanography now retired and his passion is photographing birds and animals in Nature.
Ulana is a doctor and a great cook so we enjoyed good food and stayed in their beautiful house in the room my parents lived in for many years.
This is the church of St. Stephen where my parents worshipped and shared in the community life for many years. It is the oldest church in British Columbia.
After two days and one night traveling, we are happy to be back in sunny Eftalou. The December nights are cold, but the days are warm enough to make it possible for Angela to swim in the Aegean Sea..
It is a long and winding drive up into the hills from the wine-country of Calistoga to Harbin's hidden valley. Once there the peace and beauty began to work its magic again as I slipped into those warm and healing waters. It seems to be one of those rare places where the plants, the trees and the animals live in harmony with humans. The deer and wild turkeys like us wander around the property eating, resting and connecting with each other with ease and a simple reverence for life.
Victor taught a day for men and I dived into the feminine with a great crowd of women! We moved and danced and sank deep into our inner worlds to heal and find back long hidden parts of ourselves.
Our first stop was Asheville where we celebrated Victor's Uncle Jaap's 100th birthday. Here he is with Victor and our Birthday cards. What a wonderful man! We dined at a great restaurant and he entertained us all!
Even the weather was refreshing during these wonderful four days in which our friendship became the binding force to shedding new light onto the practice of yoga, in which the breath became the leading force by which we traveled into our inner world. With many thanks to Rama Jyoti Vernon for connecting all of us with the knowledge from the Vedas. A great compliment to our friends Zoreh and Charlie, who went out of their way to make this event a great success!