Thanks to Sue Ciechanowicz of Farnham Yoga and all the people who came along to take part in a Yoga workshop for the Spring Equinox 2015. The day started well for me when I opened the curtains and watched two house sparrows mating in the branches of the magnolia tree outside the window. The tree itself was a thing of beauty with it’s bursting buds about to come to a magnificent spring display. Our Yoga started with Tree of light breathing, breathing out the winter and breathing in the spring. We spent a little time considering our responses to the change of season and the idea of balance as the wheel of the year runs toward the lighter time. We followed these ideas through in an asana class and finished with a deep relaxation. Sue then provided some of her excellent homemade flapjack and a cup of tea before we all sprang away.
Summer arrives at the solstice on the 21 June 2014. As nature builds towards this turning point in the year I am noticing the energy of the sun, especially in the early mornings as the dawn now starts to light the sky before 4am. In the winter 4am seems and is like the middle of the night and I return easily to sleep, but at this time of year it is always tempting to get up and sometimes I do. But I am also lucky enough to live near some open space where the birds are able to give full throat to their dawn chorus so I sometimes listen to this and let it sooth me back to sleep for a couple of hours.
I am reading about the meaning of the solstice in various spiritual traditions but usually come back to my Yoga where the energy at this time of year can lead me to Surya Namaskar – salutation to the sun, performed physically with a Sanskrit chant or just the chant. Either way it is a connection to the fire and power of the sun, even on a cloudy day! And what do we do after the solstice? I suggest that we relax and grow as we move through the summer towards the next marker on the wheel of the year.
For 2014 I am following the sun. Simply explained, on the wheel of the year the passage of the year is marked by a series of solar and lunar festivals. The Spring equinox is a solar festival that falls around the 22 March and is a time when the balance of light and dark is briefly equal. I am interested in how the seasons and solar festivals affect the body and mind. For the spring equinox I will be reflecting on how the year has progressed since the 2013 winter solstice passed, how my intentions for the year are manifesting themselves and hoping see what comes next as the year builds in energy towards the summer solstice. Join me on Saturday 22 March at the Bristol Zen Dojo for some postures, breathing and meditation designed to do just that.
I first came across the idea of ‘Moving into the New Year’ when I went to a day with one of my Inner Yoga Trust teachers many, many years ago. It was a cold grey day on the first weekend of January and at that point I thought it a strange idea to start Yoga so early on on the year with the excesses of the festive season still very much in my body and mind.
It turned out to be such great idea. We moved, we breathed, we reflected on things past present and future and we meditated. I felt refreshed and revitalised and also had thought about my intentions for the year, some of which bore fruit. Intentions are not the same as resolutions, they are much more forgiving and there is no sense of failure if you do not ‘achieve’ them. You are simply sowing a seed for the year to come and possibly beyond if it is not the right time for that intention to ‘germinate’ in you. Now that I teach Yoga, I like to run a new year workshop each year and I hope that others will enjoy the space and energy it provides. See the schedule page for dates if you are interested in this workshop.
The 2013 summer specials have been well attended so far. We have looked at inversions, backbends, the poses named after animals and Yoga Nidra. Still to come at the time of writing is a session on the movement of the hip joint with Sue and a session with Kate Rowland. Some spaces are still available if you would like to try us out.
The summer solstice 2013 passed on 21 June. A group of Yoga students from Bristol braved the M5 and the inclement weather for a Yoga and social weekend in Braunton, North Devon. Sophy Holker, a regular in one of my classes, moved there from Bristol a couple of years ago to run a B&B and bring up her young family. Some of the people on the trip knew Sophie from the class. We found her in the sun in her lovely garden at Silver Cottage on Friday afternoon. That was really the last we saw of the sun but we still managed to have a great time.
Some of stayed at Sophie’s B&B and at another nearby B&B. A couple of hardy souls camped at a nearby site, and we all met for Yoga sessions on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
The Yoga sessions looked in detail at feet, ankles, knees and hips and how these function and connect to the spine in asana and life.
On Saturday afternoon we all went walking, choosing between different lengths of walk and scenery types – inland, coastal with cliffs or coastal with dunes. Everyone talked later about the new awareness the Yoga sessions had brought to their walking.
On Sunday after the Yoga and lunch in a local cafe we went to Ilfracombe to see the controversial Damian Hirst sculpture,Verity. I thought she was amazing! Sophie wants us to visit again next year and I am planning to do that and to have the Yoga sessions open to my students and anyone interested in my teaching. Get in touch if you like the sound of it. I will put the date on my schedule page when I have it.