It's been a magical weekend, from our snow filled pre-yoga run yesterday, post yoga knitting, to our sweat filled mala at the studio this morning. This afternoon I relished spare time for a long and much needed soak in an epson salt filled tub. Finally I made a quick run out clad in my pj's for take-out thai soup (sorry no recipe post from me this week). With a warm full belly, there is now space to reflect on the beauty of this weekend.
Today is the winter solstice, the shortest amount of daylight in the year, truly the zenith of darkness. Cold barren winter is not my place. Celebrating the shortest day of the year seemed like a solid idea knowing that more sunshine will surely cycle our way. In the yoga world many people practice a yoga mala on the solstice. A mala is a practice of 108, that can be 108 breaths, sun salutations, chants or mantras. The most important thing is your intention.
Our yoga studio was juicy with love this morning. There is nothing I adore more than seeing students stream into my studio and today was special. For a long time I've wanted to share a mala practice at Greensboro Downtown Yoga. Luckily for me, my team is supportive and great, they helped so that I didn't have the full responsibility of 108 sun salutations solely on my own shoulders, this made the practice so much more interconnected and sacred.
We did practice 108 sun salutations today. In the winter many studios choose to make the equinox a practice of 108 breaths, but this was our first mala so we wanted to go all out! I'd be fibbing if I told you it wasn't a challenge. In fact when I was the one teaching today it was challenging to stay on my mat and not run around adjusting everyone (as I love to do), and challenging to remember to keep count by moving the beads from one bowl to the next to mark the passage of each salutation, something that requires extra amounts of awareness and presence if you aren't in the habit. When I was not teaching I found it a challenge to listen to my body and not power into chaturanga or plank on every salutation (something my shoulders are angry at me for now). I was also challenged to remind myself to keep to the intention. What was the intention? "I am home, I have arrived". This is a mantra by Thich Nhat Hahn. I use it often in my meditations and I shared it with our group. Yoga reminds us that we are more than enough, "we are home, we have arrived". It's that simple. Where ever you are are you can be home, you can arrive. The only travel you need to take is a journey inward. I believe this is an important lesson because if we are going to be helpful to others we must first be helpful to ourselves. Being helpful to yourself means knowing that this is enough, you are enough, you are home, you have arrived. During the mala if I felt like I'd lost my path or lost the intention it was easy to look around the room and be reminded, that is the beauty of a collective practice. When you are in a big room with a bunch of people the gathered energy keeps you going, accountable and present.
There are times as a yoga teacher that you become a witness, today I was a witness to the power of intentions. Today I was a part of something bigger than myself.
Happy Winter Solstice, -Alisha