Tag Archive | yoga retreat

Letting go of the old, setting intentions for the new

I was a happy participant in Byron Yoga Centre’s 8 day ‘New Year Renew and Revive’ retreat, http://www.byronyoga.com/

John Ogilvie founded the yoga centre in 1988.  His aim was to create a sanctuary (ashram in Sanskrit) for people to come where they can connect their body, mind and spirit – in a supportive, non-judgemental environment.  John’s vision is to increase the number of yogis who practice all aspects of yoga and thus making the world a better place.

The schedule for the retreat was full with yoga/mediation classes, informative talks, massages and treatments.  Most days we had three yoga classes to choose from, different styles, luckily one was restorative.  You could do as much or as little as you wished.  We even had an impromptu aqua yoga class in the 30m heated pool.  In the water we stretched our hamstrings, twisted our torso and supported each other in the Tree pose (not all of it at the same time though…).

The food at Byron Yoga Centre is Sattvic which aims to calm and purify the mind.  It is delicious vegetarian with vegan and gluten free are available.  Some of the vegetables are grown organically on site, instead of carbon print it takes a few footprints to get the vegies to the kitchen.

One of the highlights was the New Year’s Eve fire ceremony.  A couple of days prior to it we were asked to think and write down the issues we want to let go off, baggage we don’t want to take to 2015.  Once the fire was burning we released our issues by throwing the papers into the flames. Some papers stubbornly stayed outside of the reach of the fire, we had to push them in, we were all eager to let go.  It was a very moving ceremony under the Australian summer stairs.

closeup-of-a-burning-red-candle-100295966texture-burned-100285997

On New Year’s day we were asked to set our intentions (sankalpa in Sanskrit) for the year ahead.  We visualised our ‘new’ life, what we need to change to achieve it, what are the obstacles.

I have been home from the retreat for day and a half  now and cooking healthy meals and not munching between meals are presenting a problem.  Who is preparing my customary 10.00 o clock fresh juice?  One of the issues from last year is still pocking its head up – no one said it would be easy to let go!

I suggest you do a stocktake for 2014.  Be grateful for what was good and have gratitude towards the people who helped you along the way.  Make a list of the issues you do not want to carry further and have your own little burning ceremony with a candle, make sure it is safe!

Once you let go set your intentions for the year ahead.  Apply some discipline to make the changes happen.  Be flexible and alter your plans if required.  Sometimes we over analyse things instead of listening to our gut feeling (speaking about myself now).

Set your intentions

Set your intention

 Photos are courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

In with the new – out with old!

Have a great year!

Mary

The benefits of yoga OFF THE MAT – part 2 – the support of the yoga community

Following on from part 1 of the benefits of yoga OFF THE MAT now I would like to share my experience with you about the support I have received from the yoga community over the years.

I clearly remember attending a morning class as a student not long after my husband suddenly passed away, many years ago.  I was sitting on a yoga block and as the sun softly shone in the room I was thinking that this was familiar environment and I should keep coming here to allow this part of my life to go on as it used to.

In May this year on a Thursday morning the phone rang from Hungary and I learnt that my Mother had peacefully passed away a few hours earlier. As a good yogi she went with a peaceful exhalation. We were talking and crying with my friend on Skype for more than an hour.  Obviously there was no time to find a replacement teacher with such a short notice so I got ready to teach from 10.00 am. My students are regular in my class so my initial thought was to tell them about my loss at beginning of the class but changed my mind and taught the class without saying anything about Mum.   At the end of the class one of my students asked how was my Mum and then the tears started to roll again. Another student offered to drive me to my Aunt’s place after the class to share the bad news.

I attended The Australian Yoga Therapy conference on the coming weekend. I have known some of the fellow teachers for a decade or more. During the two day conference I cried a bit here and there and everybody was sympathetic, accepting and allowed me space to be. Again I felt the support of the yoga community.

Yoga is a holistic system made up of 8 steps or stages which relate to the progress of our practice – from social conduct to enlightment.  In a general yoga class we practice poses and breath control (steps 3 & 4 of the 8 limbs). It is said that Ayurveda (Indian health science which focuses on Agni, the digestive fire) is yoga OFF THE MAT.

Regular yoga practice teaches us both perseverance and letting go, listening to our body.

I have attended a few yoga retreats over the years (Satyananda yoga ashram at Mangrove creek, Billabong to mention the ones closest to home). Some people attend these retreats to deepen their yoga practice or to “have time off” to deal with issues they need to deal with such as relationship breakdown, difficult children or work problems. Yoga retreats are a good way to travel, to meet like minded people, to cleanse your digestive system with good vegetarian food and to get clarity of thought. It all helps to come back to balance. My experience in these retreats that someone will always be available to have a chat or just to listen to you.

I find it reassuring to practice with regular fellow students and have regular students in my class. Over time we get to know each other and friendships are born from the common shared interest.

Over the years I witnessed dancers/artists/film makers / food provedores marketing themselves in their yoga community. If I have a chance I will attend the show or exhibition promoted by fellow yogis.

Once you become a yogi you become a yogi for life. The benefits of yoga “OFF THE MAT” are almost as important as the practice itself.