Tara Glazier, the brilliant anatomy and philosophy teacher I am lucky enough to study regularly with, is leading a retreat to Costa Rica next month. I just booked my ticket! There are some budget spots left — only $900 to share a beach cabana — as well as some larger, gorgeous rooms with pools and things for $1700–$2200. She’ll be accompanied by James Bae, a healer and acupuncturist.
The days will be filled with two complete Asana practices, meditation, breath work, and individual healing sessions with James where he integrates his knowledge of Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, yoga therapeutics, and acupuncture. Three organic, whole food meals will be provided daily. There is the option to take part in the many activities the Osa provides such as surfing, bird watching, rainforest hiking, waterfall tours, or simply relaxing in a hammock near the beach.
I can’t recommend Tara highly enough; she’s translated the sometimes murky language of Anusara into real benefits in my yoga practice. She corrected the habits that were causing my sciatic pain, and has totally reshaped poses like Pigeon, Down Dog, and Handstand so that I’m feeling secure and healthy in all my joints. If you’re a seasoned yoga practitioner, you’ll learn a lot of great details; if you’re newer, you’ll learn them correctly. And I am always impressed by her ability to dish out complex Indian philosophy without losing the rhythm of sequencing at all.
We just received word that Wanderlust, the yoga + music festival started by Schuyler Grant, is branching into a THIRD location this year. The Standard Hotel, which is quite the patron of cool yoga and design events, will be hosting Wanderlust Miami. So the full calendar for 2011 is now:
Lake Tahoe, July 28–31
Vermont, June 23–26
Miami, March 17–20
The lineup is smaller for Miami — 4 yoga teachers instead of 10. In Miami you’ll have:
Schuyler Grant, director of Kula Yoga (Kula Flow, in Tribeca and Williamsburg)
Elena Brower, director of Vira Yoga (Anusara, in Soho)
Barbara Verrochi and Kristin Leigh, directors of The Shala (Ashtanga and Vinyasa, in Union Square)
And for music you’ll have Bonobo, Garth Stevenson, Prasanna, Shaman’s Dream, and the Mayapuris. [I’m only familiar with Garth, he does some of the live music Fridays at Tara Glazier’s Abhaya Yoga. Stand-up bass, AMAZING for yoga.] They’re also featuring a “theatrical performance” by Jenny Zebede.
I do have to say it’s kind of hilarious that “your Wanderlust adventure” is going to take you to a designer hotel in South Beach. The call of the wild has definitely evolved.
Last week I was accosted outside the Food Co-op by one of those flyer guys. I managed to shrug him off, but as I glanced at his flyer I realized I actually wanted one. So I went back.
Brooklyn Outfitters, based in Williamsburg, is leading some cool outdoor adventures throughout the winter. This weekend there’s a 7.5 mile hike up Mt. Wittenberg, “the highest vertical ascent from base to summit” around. Later in the month they’re doing an intro to winter camping, and then a door-to-door ski trip for the same price it would cost to buy a lift ticket.
A New Adventure for the New Year: Beginning Sanskrit January 4–9, 2011
Immerse yourself in the gorgeous and powerful language of yoga – sign up for the American Sanskrit Institute’s week-long introduction to sound, meaning and symbol. Imagine confident pronunciation, the ability to read devanagari script, and word by word understanding of beloved chants! Commute (45 minutes from Grand Central) or take a residential retreat. No experience needed for this joyful practice!
I was super bummed to miss Wanderlust last year — Schuyler Grant’s yoga-plus-music festival was a genius idea. And the lineup was rock solid on both fronts: teachers included Shiva Rea, Seane Corn, and Doug Swenson, while musicians included Moby, Brazilian Girls, and Pretty Lights. So nice to see a yoga event that’s not just world music!
So I am really excited to hear that there are TWO Wanderlust Festivals this year. Again in Lake Tahoe, July 28–31, but also in Vermont, June 23–26. So you could even be a total groupie and go to both! (If you do, talk to me about being a remote blogger…)
Need a retreat? Want to actually pronounce Sanskrit correctly? Jo Brill is offering a workshop this Columbus Day. By the end of the weekend, you’ll be able to read and chant a simple Sanskrit phrase.
Sanskrit and Chant in New Hampshire
A Weekend Adventure with Jo Brill and Robert Moses
By day, explore the language of yoga — hearing, seeing, chanting and feeling each Sanskrit sound in your palate. Each evening, chant to the feminine divine (with Robert Moses and his family) to celebrate the Navaratri festival. A feast for the senses and an opportunity to be with our sacred selves. No experience necessary for these joyful practices!
Twice in my life have I wandered into a yoga class where I felt completely fascinated, connected, and at home. The first was with Jhon Tamayo at Atmananda, where I ended up doing my teacher training. The second was this past weekend with Jill Miller at Omega.
I’d heard about Jill from Brooke Siler, who runs Re:Ab Pilates here in New York. She said if I liked anatomy and alignment, I would like Jill. Then my friend T’ai Jamar, who runs T’ai Yoga Therapy, happened to link to Jill on Facebook. And she was leading a retreat upstate the following weekend. Perfect timing!
Who needs a getaway? We just received a really kind offer from the folks at The Garden (a restored 18th century villa in the Hudson Valley). The first Yogoer reader to register for their yoga / meditation / nutrition retreat next weekend gets a free spot! I’m holding myself back. It’s all yours…
Thawing Into Spring
March 12–14, 2010
With Yuval Boim, Sarah Barab, and Dages Keates
At The Garden, near Beacon, NY
Finally back in action after 10 days away. The travel alone (cab to the plane to the plane to the van to the bus to the lake, and back) was enough to leave me loopy for two days each time. But it was so incredibly worth the effort; Guatemala is a special place.
I spent a day in Antigua, a cute, colorful old town full of earthquake-ruined cathedrals and bizarrely international cuisine. Korean food, anyone? We managed to get by with only pidgin Spanish; the town is full of expatriates and used to backpackers. It must be a Lonely Planet pick. I would go back just to see the Santo Domingo again; it’s a wrecked convent restored to a five-star hotel.
Then the retreat took us to San Pedro, a village of 13,000 known more for its parties than its spirituality. (San Marcos, across the lake, boasts the hippie expat colony.) Indigenous culture was amazingly preserved; women walked with household goods on their heads, and all ages wore the multi-layered, multi-colored traditional dresses and pants. We heard several of the 22 Mayan dialects (Spanish is their second language, too), and a local shaman performed a Mayan fire ceremony on the 4th of July. The town was very welcoming; I was only ignored a few times, and never harassed. And the bugs left us pretty much alone! The carnival music and fireworks, celebrating the town’s anniversary until midnight each night, unfortunately did not.
There were 21 retreaters, counting the two teachers (Amanda Zapanta and Ariel Karass). Most were strangers to each other, but within two days we were chatting about our bathroom luck and giggling during yoga class. It was so open, warm, and fun — not at all the serious, meditative boot camp I’d been expecting. (I’d never been on a vacation retreat before, only the ashram retreats at Sivananda!) We practiced yoga twice a day, but we also went kayaking, hiked a volcano, rode horses, got massages, ziplined, shopped the markets, and went dancing. Wine and coffee were freely enjoyed. I considered moving in with the chefs.
And, of course, it was beautiful. Our hotel looked directly out on the lake, so we woke each morning to full-sky sunrises over glittering water. Three volcanoes and a chain of mountains hugged the shoreline; millions of birds sang their songs all day long. When we hiked the volcano, there was a moment at the top where the clouds parted and the entire surface of the lake appeared, like a mirror in the sky. We got the same view from the zipline — full horizons on either side, brain trying to reconcile the impossible experience of floating. My heart was beating fast with joy.
I’m trying to transition back to asphalt now. I’m still wearing my ratty friendship bracelet (tho it’s turning my towels pink and blue), and greeting friends with “Hola!” The stimulation of the city is intense after a week in nature, but I feel like I’m surfing rather than suffering. A week away, an amazing group, was enough to gel something into place. I’m carrying bright white clouds all throughout me.
I went hiking this weekend, in the hills across the Hudson from Beacon, with three yoga friends. We started late and stayed late but managed to make it back to the car three hours after sunset. Aka in the dark.
In the last hour or two, when we were really struggling to see the trail markers with our flashlights (and iPhone lamps!), and making frequent backtracks to regain the zig zag ridge trail, my friend G commented, “You know, I get so happy each time I see a marker — too bad there’s no markers in real life! Like, good job, you’re going the right way!” We all agreed, and then I realized, “You know, there’s not really markers in nature, either. Some guide figured out a path and put these here for others.”
It made me think about the importance of people on any path. We learn a lot from those just a little bit ahead of us — not always some grand guru. It’s rare to find someone you respect, trust, and want to follow one hundred percent. (Plus, that’s kind of dangerous.) But there are many friends with mini lessons.
I had a pen pal ask me who my teacher was. I haven’t answered yet; I have many that I love, and I’m searching more for a solo practice than an instructor right now, but I do feel weird that I haven’t picked a particular lineage. I’m not really shopping around, like I did in the first months and years, but I’ve always had a critical eye for gurus, like “who is this guy talking at me now, and why would I want to be like him?” No more student-teacher / child-parent patterns. I’m not making myself into the likeness of anyone, I’m finding my inner intuition and self. My current hatha / meditation teacher Steve Prestianni leads hour-long silent meditations with no instruction, because he says the path of meditation is an internal, individual one, and for him to direct that would just be sharing his inner experience, not helping anyone else to find their own. It’s a strong, if frustrating, push in the inward direction.
But just thinking about the markers makes me feel a little more open, and thankful for all my random teachers. A solo practice is still an expression of or against tradition. Like the statement, “You have to know the rules in order to break them.”
On the trail we would get bored, and find a side path, or split up a bit, or rest for a while. It was a fluid, spontaneous day. Our personalities combined well enough to make things easy, but the brisk air kept us moving.
We stopped on the west side of the ridge to build a fire, and watch the sunset, and share food. Earlier, G mentioned how he wanted to do some kind of puja, or ceremony of reverence, in his life, but nothing felt right. When we set out the food — bread, crackers, hummus, arugula, tomatoes, apples, oranges, bananas, almonds, dates, raisins, and an assortment of cooked grains and beans — V suggested a 15-minute meditation on the food, before we ate. The spread, on a bright orange blanket, is still crystal clear in my mind. It took on the significance of ritual, or holiday, to just sit in silence and appreciation. I realized how little appreciation I had for the meals in my life, how much I expected, planned, managed, rushed, restricted my sustenance. How beautiful is even a little grape tomato! Silly V roasted the bananas in the fire, and then it was time to move on. (Chilly Scout is a bit too Vata to sit in the shade at 40º F.)
Halfway back I realized I’d relaxed enough to have faith in these friends through a tricky situation. We were never in serious danger, but we could have ended up miles from the car, or hiking all night, so the sense of relief was high for each little marker and landmark. But comedy reigned; at the most nerve-wracking part (step-stones through a murky swamp that risked soaked shoes for us all), we held tense hands as G lit the dim path with his penlight. It felt like a Grimm Brothers’ escape scene — and then his cell phone rang. He took the call.
As we slipped and slid through leaves or on rocks, G said, “Take care of each other.” I am very grateful this was taken literally, as I was also loaned hat and long gloves for the decreasing temperatures. (I dressed for a day hike! I had no idea they planned fire-building and sunsets. I call that camping.) New York can be so hard, competitive, and demanding, that a break from selfish self-fulfillment is amazing. Less thinking about myself, more joy for us all. We took turns leading, and lighting the path, and I am still amazed people can be such good leaders with so little ego.
And of course the trail took us right back where we started.