Photo courtesy of YogaDork
Halloween is a very yogic holiday…at least, that’s what I tried to impart to my yoga class yesterday, but more on that later. At some point in the day, I realized that I was having a very yogi one - one in which I was both practicing yoga physically on the mat and bringing the principles into the rest of my life, contradictions and all. I intend to share that here.
Morning I wake up, roll out of bed, and onto my mat to practice. On Wednesdays, I do not simply do my morning practice; I practice my whole class, embodying it before I teach it at 5pm. Halloween morning, I appropriately woke up to lots of Kali. After practicing, I checked email and ate an english muffin with almond butter, brewed some coffee and (almond) milk, and went through email after email informing me that my beloved yoga studios in NYC were either still closed due to the hurricane or had limited openings. There is something beautiful about the promptness of yoga studios keeping up with their students and offering alternative options in this time of need. I am sending so much love to NYC yogis hOMe right now, finding creative ways to get their practice on when the subways are down. I then took a nice long walk to the middle school where I felt slightly guilty for adding to the overall sugar high by bringing my tutees sour gummy worms for the holiday, but was delighted to see a history teacher dressed up as a very convincing Dumbledore.
Afternoon Class, then office hours for WesBAM! where I posted the above pumpkin photo on the Facebook page, updated the WesBAM! blog, and applied for funding to get props shipped to Wes (yay, restorative yoga!). I also set up an instructors meeting…I think I am beginning to learn, on a micro level, what it means to run a yoga studio. I then ran home to pick up liability forms, hook up my playlist with my phone, talk to my housemate about tattoos (a fave topic of conversation), grab my adjustments lotion and go!
Teaching I love teaching on holidays! This probably has something to do with the fact that I love themes…and tend to go pleasantly overboard on them. I’m talking mudras, pranayama, asana, playlists, and dharma talks catered to the specificity of what the day calls for. So on Halloween, I connected everything to moving through fear, the yogic way. Here’s how:
- COSTUMES - On Halloween, we dress up. We pretend to be someone else, or a creature or object or phenomenon (I was glow in the dark). In the asana practice, we continually move our bodies to take on different costumes of the various asanas, becoming warriors, frogs, happy babies, dogs, cats, cows, deities, and pigeons in the span of an hour. Yoga lets us to, in a sense, trick or treat every day.
- ABHAYA - This means fearlessness in Sanskrit, but as a yoga teacher/friend/student/recent grad once told me, the yogic definition of fearlessness is a whole lot different from a Western one. In Yoga, when we say fearlessness, we do not mean gritting our teeth and bearing our deepest and darkest. In other words, fearlessness does not mean being afraid of forearm stand and then suddenly flailing our legs up in a vain effort to “do” a pose that feels, looks, and seems foreign. No, in Yoga, when talk about fearlessness, we mean saying hi to fear (to me, that’s why Abhaya mudra looks like you’re waving at someone), introducing yourself to it, and then taking mini steps toward the fear…but not leaps! To use the previous example, Abhaya in terms of forearm stand means, one day, hanging out in dolphin a lot. Then, the next day, maybe you begin to work the core by doing some dolphin pushups. Then, eventually, maybe you play with lifting one leg up…and then another, but all in good time. A lot gentler, no?
I hope your Halloween festivities are continuing into a fabulous Halloweekend, but even if they aren’t, we can cultivate this yogic concept of fearlessness throughout every day, costumes or not.