Sunday, August 25, 2013

Yoga Festival

Finger Lakes Yoga Festival, 2013

Almost 12 years ago, right after I had Piper, I took her to a baby massage class.  I loved it.  The class was taught by a woman who also taught yoga at a local studio.  She offered free coupons to her yoga studio at the end of class and a special Post-Partum class.  As someone who has struggled with negative body image, this woman's yoga classes helped me find newfound respect and appreciation for my body and it's ability to create and bring forth life.  Learning to breathe, the asanas...gave me stability and kept me sane during those first sleepless nights of being a mother of two.  On days when I felt shut in the house with no adult stimulation and crying babies, it was yoga that kept me grounded and centered and focused.  I was hooked and I have been practicing yoga for almost 12 years!
Jason taking a Qi Gong class at the yoga festival.

I often tell people that yoga is something I want to shout from the rooftops about.  It has made that much of an impact on me and changed my life in awesome ways.  I had always had body image issues and I always struggled to find a form of exercise that I loved enough to stick with...I tried aerobics and step aerobics and Tai Bo and running and walking and swimming...but none of those things worked on me both physically AND spiritually and I never stayed with them.  But was different.  I felt like a better version of myself when I practiced regularly.

So, when we were on vacation in Jamaica 7 years ago and Jason took a yoga classes with me on the beach and became hooked...I was ecstatic that we shared this and that he "got it"!

Jason quickly advanced beyond me.  He is very physical.  I was timid for years about doing crow pose (though now I can) or wild thing (not as hard as I thought) or a headstand (I can only do a headstand with a wall), but Jason took each challenge and mastered it.  I admit, I was a little bothered, a little envious or jealous of his ability and how fast he progressed and how daring he is.  Envy and jealousy have no place in yoga and I knew that, but I am only human.

The result of the envy and jealousy was that I tried harder in some areas, others I have to just know myself.  I have a rotator cuff injury from water skiing that prohibits certain poses.

Jason has really good form.  The yoga trainer for the NY Jets used him as a model.
Photo credit: Bonnie Gustin Photography
One of the benefits of having a husband with a yoga practice is that we can practice together and go on yoga excursions.  A couple of years ago, Jason and I gifted each other a few days at Kripalu.  It was so awesome and beautiful.  We took yoga classes and meditation classes and nutrition classes and holisitic healing and cooking classes.  We grew in our practice and our spirituality and our relationship.  Not only did this benefit us physically and spiritually and emotionally, but it benefited our relationship and helped us grow closer to one another.

When Jason found this yoga festival, I was very reluctant and hesitant.  I was nervous and apprehensive.  I don't like to travel.  I don't like camping.  I don't like public restrooms or showers.  I was convinced that all of the women would be lithe and have beautiful yoga bodies, not 41 year old bodies that have had two c-sections.  I was convinced everyone would be able to balance on one pinky while raising their feet to the sky.  I really didn't want to go.  But, Jason really did want to go...and it was one weekend and I love him, so we went.
Photo credit

I was so relieved when we got there and not everyone was a size 2 and the first women we met were in their seventies.  There were many, many people there who were around my age and had mama bodies.

I was not so happy when it rained for the first two days and the town below the hill where the yoga festival was had been evacuated.  The yoga festival was all outside.  Thankfully my husband is an awesome outdoorsman and our tent was dry and we were comfortable.

People left in droves as soon as the roads cleared.

But we stayed.  We didn't even think about leaving after the rain was over because we knew the next few days were clear and bright and sunny--as much as I loved being unplugged, I loved having having access to the weather forecast.  A certain camaraderie developed among those of us that stayed.  I was teased for leaving to get Tim Horton's coffee as soon as the roads cleared and for going out to dinner every night the roads were clear, but I was still accepted into the group of people who managed to keep their chi despite the rain.
Me in a Hindu Philosophy class

My husband is someone who has always felt super connected to nature.  He goes to church with us, he loves God and he accepted Jesus as his savior, but he always says he feels more connected to God in nature, admiring what God created.  He has always felt a connection to God's creation, to earth, is more important than being involved in a church of people who can get so political.  Jason loves the simplicity of nature.

Jason taking an alignment class

We were too busy taking classes to take photos, so one day I asked Jason to do some poses so I could take pictures to preserve the memory of having been there.

Jason at a Kai Chi Do class
The VERY FIRST class we took at the yoga festival was called Belly Wisdom and the amazing teacher explained the significance of the belly, of the gut instinct and trusting your gut.   She explained that research has been done and proven that our gut is our second brain.  We need to trust it and honor it, it will make us stronger and more confident.
Kai Chi Do
Through other workshops I did over the weekend on Meditation and Breathing and Yoga Philosophy, I learned that we are not compatible with everyone.  It may be chemical or something different, but it's not judgmental if we just don't feel comfortable with someone, it's something more and we need to listen to that and leave that person alone.  It's not that they are bad, there is just something in our chemical makeup that makes us incompatible.
Finger Lakes Yoga Festival
We took an awesome Yin Yoga class (we both love yin yoga--for links to online classes, check my Yoga tab at the top of the page) that had THE BEST shavasana ever of all time.  
Jason took several Tai Chi classes. 
 I took a Hindu Philosophy class.  
We took Meditation workshops.  
It was a beautiful, peaceful, non-competitive, holistic, inclusive, open, accepting, loving environment and we made several new friends that we are enjoying getting to know better on line and look forward to seeing next year at the yoga festival.

Hindu Philosophy
Jason and I visited Buttermilk Falls early one morning, sipping our Tim Horton's and watching the sun come up.  Later that day, in a Therapeutic Meditation class, I came to an understanding that the water in the gorge got to where it needed to be, it formed it's way through rock and formed it's own stream.  We, too, are like that water.  We need to just flow with life and let it go and we will get where we need to go.
Partner Yoga; I know I am in horrible form for tree pose, but Jason is more than a foot taller than me and it was hard to match up...that is my story and I am sticking to it!
Photo credit
In addition to the deep introspection and amazing self-exploration workshops offered, Jason and I had time to really bond.  As I said, my expectations were low at the beginning.  Of course, when you go away with your partner, you hope to become closer and I thought that would be achieved by exploring Buttermilk Falls, the Finger Lakes Wine Trail and restaurants together.  But it happened at the yoga festival as well.  We took a Partner Yoga class and Denise Hatch, the yoga trainer for the NY Jets taught us a special partner pose to help relieve and maybe even correct my scoliosis.

We sat around the campfire at night and listened to amazing music and had interesting conversations with cool people.  We remembered who we were before kids as individuals and as a couple.
Photo credit

The last class I took was a Sound Therapy class which was absolutely the most amazing and different thing I did all weekend.  We laid on the ground, Angela Kaiser lead us through a meditation to relax us and help us get out of our head and into our heart.  We focused on our breath and she used rattles and tones.  I am not kidding when I felt energy literally lift from my body and move up and out.  It was awesome and amazing.
after Sound Therapy with Angela Kaiser

We are planning to make this yoga festival an annual tradition.