Yoga. What a loaded word. What comes to mind when one hears the word “yoga”? So often when I talk about yoga, people reply with, “Oh yeah, I need yoga because my hamstrings are tight.” “I need to get back into yoga because my back hurts.” While all of this is valid, I feel like yoga goes so much deeper than the physical body.
For me, yoga is unity. Yoga will always be unity. While practicing, one is uniting with breath, the physical body, the mental body, the energetic body, the environment, and the community. In every yoga class I teach, I incorporate each of these elements. Yes, the hamstrings may open, but the heart might open too.
This past weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, I was blessed with opportunity to share yoga at Cannaventure’s Discs and Dabs Tournament & Campo
ut on Black Mountain in Guffey, Colorado. Guffey is a magical place where time slows down, nature permeates the soul, and people remove the filter that so often prevents connection. “People can let go and really be themselves here, it’s a safe place,” Eric (property owner).
The campout began Friday night and lasted until Monday afternoon. Days began with a homemade breakfast in an industrial-functioning outdoor soup kitchen, thanks to Black Mountain Family. After breakfast, participants competed in the Discs tournament while dabbing and wandering across the many acres of Black Mountain. After a full day of disc golf, participants enjoyed a homemade dinner while listening to live music on the custom built stage, all by a warm bonfire which was very needed in sub freezing temperatures after sunset.
On Monday morning, the last day, Sunrise yoga was supposed to begin at 7:00am. After a night of dabs, bocce ball, munchies, campfire shenanigans, and petting farm animals, no one was awake at 7:00am.
It was an ambitious attempt.
Instead of being attached to the 7:00am time and flowing with the newborn sun, Ben (Cannaventure Owner, President, Organizer) and I decided to wait until more beautiful souls awoke. I very much appreciate how laid back everything and everyone was at this event. It flowed the way it was meant to.
While we were waiting on folks to wake up, we made breakfast. I was honored to help out in the kitchen. Amy (property owner) prepared everything! The least I could do was help cook! I made coffee and pancakes for everyone on a huge kitchen griddle. I have never cooked on a griddle. Do you know how many pancakes you can fit on a griddle? Lots! Lots let me tell you! I filled the griddle with about seven pancakes each batch. I make about three batches. By the time the batter was gone, so were the pancakes. It felt so good to see so many people eating pancakes!
After breakfast, I went around to the different campsites inviting everyone to my yoga class. Some people were leaving, some straight up told me no, and then I found some takers! They were our camp neighbors and bonfire musicians. The Cannaventure Crew heads up to the top of Black Mountain. It’s a peninsula with a 360 view of the magical Guffey, Colorado.
I set up my mat so that everyone can see my instruction and the mountains in the distance. I have about 12 participants. We leisurely begin by breathing together and taking in the space. Right here, right now.
The present moment. Something that you have access to at this very moment. And this one. And this one. Take a deep inhale.
Hold it. Feel the air inside your lungs take up space in your body.
Exhale. Let go of whatever you are holding on to.
Inhale. Notice something about your environment.
Exhale. Listen to the breath leave your body.
Inhale. Listen to your surroundings.
Be fully in your body and in your mind with intention. Each action is deliberate and from a space of thought and love.
This is being in the present moment, no matter the circumstance. You see, any time we are suffering, it is because of our aversion to the present moment. Too often the present moment is clouded by distraction of our phones, past emotion, present ambitions, and general mind chatter.
I too feel all of these things. I remember how it felt when I ended a relationship. I remember feeling regret, and then all of those emotions will arise. I too remember what it feels like to feel alone then those emotions arise. I too know what it feels like to be laying in one spot, crippled by thoughts. I too know what it feels like to think back to happy times and good memories. I too remember my grandmother’s famous green beans on the farm in Tennessee. I too remember what it feels like to have the security of my parents.
I too know what it feels like to not be completely satisfied with my job, my finances, my body, etc. I too know what it feels like to yearn for something more. I too know what it feels like to be hungry and anticipate dinner. I too know what it feels like to want a life that is full of love and adventure.
The thing is... I will never get there until I am fully HERE.
What a beautiful thing, being alive. Blinking and having the opportunity to see something from a refreshed perspective. Realizing that, wow, as I inhale I grow taller. As I exhale, I can get a little closer to my toes. As I inhale, I take in the space. As I exhale, I become a little more connected.
When our pre-frontal cortex in the brain is shut off with the mind chatter, we can truly be alive and in the present moment and have a choice. WE GET TO CHOSE how our life flows with OUR DIRECTION. It is magic.
With thought, intention, and energy, we can truly begin to draw, paint, sculpt, and create our existence.
After the meditation, I guided my soul friends through Surya Namaskar A & B. I incorporated a crescent flow, a virabhadrasana II flow, some partner work, and some cooling/opening stretches.
The partner work was so cool. We all got in a circle. We pressed energy into each other’s hands. We closed our eyes. Listened to the birds again, heard laughter, opened our eyes, looked at everyone’s smiling faces, and began a balancing series.
With one leg out and the opposite arm out, the entire circle can balance on one leg while relying on the balance from the rest of the community. We then held shoulder-to-shoulder and nose-dived into virabhadrasana III, which was previously a little more difficult without the support of the circle. “I can do it now! Thanks Guys!” Amy said.
We then turned our backs to one another and walked backwards into the circle. Everyone leaned back into each other and the clump began to collectively grow stronger. So often in our community we are afraid to rely on support from others. Sometimes we just have to give a little to receive a little. We took the communal support with us in our hearts as we balanced on our own and found our own mats again.
After the cooling stretching postures, savasana’s soundtrack was nature due to my phone over heating. I was so excited to play the Desert Dweller’s song, but the birds were singing more beautifully. We practiced being in the moment, and we continue to practice to be in the moment after the mat is rolled up. We continue to practice unity. We continue to practice.
For us, after the mat was rolled up, we went cliff diving at Paradise Cove. The plunge into the natural-freezing pool was literally breathtaking and exhilarating.
I am beyond grateful to have shared this experience with everyone. From the bottom of my heart I feel joy in being able to connect and aid in the practice of humans really diving in and getting into their bodies. I know without a doubt that this is my life’s work.
Also, shout out to Cannaventure and Ben Owens for creating the space for people to come, have the freedom to be themselves, freedom to smoke, and freedom to be in nature. It is because of his passion that this whole event took place. He is such an inspiring human that had a dream and is now fulfilling it. Right on man.