Sunday, July 24, 2011

A New Beginning with Wanderlust

I had been looking for just the right yoga retreat for years. Lack of vacation time and other obligations prevented me from going away for a week or two to train. I had been attending steady yoga classes for years, switching up studios depending on location, the style I liked, and, well, price. But after years of studying the same lineage (brand, if you will) of yoga, I was itching to deepen my practice.
Wanderlust found me.
Without thinking about it too much, I signed up as a volunteer, and when they chose me to participate, I immediately found a hotel and started reading about classes at the festival. I really didn't know any of the "big name" yoga teachers, but read a little about them and knew I'd find the classes that were right for me once I got there.

Class 1: "Sky Dancers" with Sianna Sherman, A class that boasted a "challenging sequence of backbends" and a "greater refuge in the power of love." Nice. I'm in. There's only 1 problem. I hate backbends. I'm actually scared of them. The pain in my lower back was saying, "don't you dare step foot in that room," but there was a light somewhere in my body saying, "you better get over this fear!" I went for it.
The teacher could tell I was struggling in Ustrasana (Camel Pose) so came over to help. She could see the fear in my eyes, knowing the full wheel would be next. She left me, choking on my fear. A minute later, a girl a few feet away was crying. I think she was worse off than me.
Before you know it, Sianna Sherman had me and the cryer up in front of the entire class, using us as examples to do backbends the RIGHT way. "We're going to help you two," she said in the most motherly fashion. I would've done anything she told me. A few simple instructions later, Brenda and I were in full wheels, and the whole class was applauding. Talk about empowerment.

Class 2: Creating Art through the Body with John Friend (founder of Anusara)
As a volunteer, I had to work, but I tried to sneak into every class I could. Usually they'd let me after all the other yogis took their place. I found an open spot in the back, next to the door, a draft blowing up my yoga pants the whole time. I didn't care. Somehow I made it into handstand in this class. John talked about how we are meant to share our art with the world. I was almost in tears of bliss by the end of it.

Class 3: Getting High: Using Yoga and Meditation to Access the Infinite Pharmacy Within with Tommy Rosen
Ouch. My shoulder tendonitis REALLY didn't like this. Long-winded-detailed explanation of this session cut short, we did crazy things with our bodies that made our kundalini energy rise, namely, for the first 11 minutes we jumped / danced with our arms in the sky NONSTOP. Try it. E-L-E-V-E-N minutes.

Deepak Chopra - Diamonds on the glasses, squished on my fanny in the front row on the floor. He said some insightful stuff. :)

Class 4: Power Yoga Master Class & Meditation with Bryan Kest
Let me just sum it up for you with some quotes from Mr. Kest: Quote 1 "Lower down, baby cobra flow, ass in the air, High as it'll go." Quote 2 "This is called foot in the air asana. You want to know the sanskrit names of poses? Go to India." Quote 3 "People always ask me, 'Bryan, which way should I point my foot?' I don't fuckin know. If you like the way it feels when you point it, then point it, if you like the way it feels when you flex, then flex. I don't fuckin care!" Quote 4 "You know, I'm looking all around at you folks and your glutes and lips are all so tight. Loosen up your glutes, man! Do you make love like that?"
Such an unexpected beautiful 8 a.m. class

Watched Shakti Flow with Seane Corne
Cool scene. Some girl blew out her knee. Not a cool sound.

Class 5: Finding Your Voice - Off The Mat - Suzanne Sterling + Kerri Kelly
I couldn't wait to attend this class. This year being my "year of radical self-expression," I really wanted to see what was going to surface in this type of setting. As the descriptor read, "it is crucial that we each find our unique voice and allow our creativity to have full expression." The workshop started out with some chanting and finding our 5th chakra, and lots of moaning took place throughout each asana. When we warmed up our bodies through sound and movement, we all formed a large circle and that's when the drum and the sound of our voices began. Suzanne started us out with a melody and, to my excitement, she said quickly after starting, "if you can find a harmony, go for it." Paradise.
We ended up traveling around the room, singing and expressing our innermost Divine...then ended up in a tight mosh singing the song we had all just collectively created after expressing what we were feeling in the moment. It sounded something like this:
"Ahhhhhh Ohhhhh Ahhhhh.....EXPRESSION! (which was, of course, my contribution) Ahhhhhh Ohhhhh Ahhhhhh GOD'S LOVE! Hooooooooooooooonesty.....Ahhhhhh Ohhhh ahhhh!!!"
You just had to be there.

Michael Franti
Can't even explain the bliss that was emanating from my body and from those of everyone around me. You just have to experience him live.

Class 6: The Healing Balm of Self-Acceptance with Elena Brower
Going into this class, I wasn't feelin' it. It took my mind a good 25 minutes to be positive. I was introduced to Hanumanasana. I went up and chatted with Elena and thanked her for showing me how to open my heart and conquer my fears. She gave me a high-five with eyes of accomplishment for me and gratitude. I left feeling like I could conquer anything.

Class 7: Thanks, I Needed That with Desiree Rumbaugh
Had no idea what to expect and didn't want to do any more asanas. By the end of the class I literally said out loud, "Thanks, I needed that."
We partnered up with the strangers around us and I found Christine, a 5"9'er who was a perfect match. We pulled each other's hips, kneaded each other's backs, stepped on each other, leaned all over one another and twisted ourselvse into pretzels that miraculously undid muscle strains and knots. I would follow Ms. Desiree anywhere for a class! 

Can't wait to introduce everything I've learned into my practice......Om nomah!