As I write this on a miserable rainy Saturday afternoon, it is hard to believe that just 12 short hours ago some of us were outside, immersed in the transformational experience of a gong bath. A gong bath is a beautiful passive meditation practice, usually experienced laying down, while being immersed in the melodic sounds of the gong. We started with a slow yoga flow and moved into a gong bath experience lead by Heather Paris. The music was beautiful, enchanting, relaxing and the bird song, hawk wings and other sounds of nature were intermittent and served as harmony for the instruments. We ended at twilight and felt relaxed and at peace. When chatting later with snacks, chai (and wine), we all agreed that the experience was immersive and wonderful; some of us struggled with shutting all the way down for the full practice. This is totally normal, as in savasana, we should be gentle with ourselves and softly guide our mind back to the practice.
For more on what a gong bath is, below is a link to a lovely article entitled Gong Bath 101!
We have reached the official end of summer. While I love summer, it is my favorite season, I do find myself looking forward to the more ordered pace of the fall, the less crowded days at the beach and continuing outdoor activities as things quiet down in Charlestown. The onset of fall can cause melancholy with the cooler temperatures and the shorter days. To combat this, perhaps take the time to focus on warming routines and self-care, a brisk walk followed by a bath and a spicy cup of chai? Take this transitional time possibly to revisit some routines that got lost in the frenzy of the summer, maybe even recommitting to your yoga practice (with so many activities in the summer we often practice less formally). Instead of lamenting the end of summer, lets appreciate change, embrace the beauty that each season brings, and find ways to savor it and be present.
Our Practice – Grounding Poses for Fall - Anjaneyasana (low lunge)
As we move into fall, we may feel a sense of melancholy or sadness. It is a time often associated with transition, shortening days and less light. There is evidence to support these feelings grounded in ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and healing. In traditional Chinese medicine, Autumn aligns with the lungs and large intestines and these functions are associated with grief and sadness. “These emotions represent our ability to balance taking in and letting go” both figuratively and physically. We can make fall a beautiful time by practicing self care and nurturing with a restorative, grounding practice, one that is slow, rhythmic, and fluid.
This week we will revisit one of my favorite grounding poses, anjayneyasana, low lunge.
The physical benefits of low lunge can strengthen the hips and quadriceps, while stretching the psoas, quadriceps, and groin.
Starting in downward dog, inhale. As you exhale, step your right foot forward, between your hands. Lower your left knee to the floor, sliding the foot back until you feel a nice stretch in the left hip and thigh.
Keep the hips low and level with each other. As you inhale, engage your lower belly and lift your chest away from the thigh, sweeping the arms up alongside your ears.
Come into a gentle backbend lifting your chest toward the sky, arms over head or in cactus. To protect your low back direct your tail bone down toward the mat with the backbend coming more in your upper spine.
As you exhale, lower your hands back down and step back to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat on the other side.
Meditation – Seasonal Change
Rather than mourn the end of summer, let’s dedicate our thoughts this week to embracing the seasonal change and the beauty that it brings.
“We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives. “ - Gary Zukhavv
Gary Zukav is an American spiritual teacher and the author of four New York Times Best Sellers. He has appeared on Oprah’s show to discuss transformation in human consciousness concepts over 30 times. His first book, The Dancing Wu Li Masters (1979), won a U.S. National Book Award.
“One must maintain a little bit of summer even in the middle of winter.” – Henry David Thoreau
Nurturing with Food – Warming Chai
At our gong bath practice this past Friday, we enjoyed warming chai as the twilight brought cooler air. My version is far less sweet than the commercial versions that are common in coffee houses in the US and several attendees commented on that! While it takes a bit of time to make, the concentrated tea keeps well in the fridge and is ready to be combined with your milk of choice and enjoyed hot (or iced). I am repeating the recipe on request!
See you on the mat!