In the world (and business) of yoga, there is almost nothing I enjoy more than planning retreats and workshops; anything with a structure that allows me- and the participants- to dive in more deeply, to taste and savor flavors in a time not defined by our usual list of ‘Gotta-Do’s’.
For the weekend workshops that are taking place this July, I am thinking about the concept of ‘joy’. As I plan my talks, and the supporting asanas, pranayamas and meditations, I am starting with the following premises:
- that we contain within us all that we need to create and sustain joy.
- that we contain within us all that might be required for us to find the deepest meaning in life.
- that through a process of making choices and developing our potential, we stand a good chance of experiencing our divine nature
It is reasonable to wonder:
- How can we possibly look at all that over the course of one weekend?
- How can we come up with strategies that place us squarely in a place of feeling connected to our power, feeling that we have the strength and temerity to move forward, even where there is so much that would distract and discourage us?
(Gosh, it would be so much easier to just pack as many poses as possible into a ten-hour package, and have people leave the weekend so physically wrung out that they’re sure they got their money’s worth.)
I can’t say I am interested in leading- let alone attending- the kind of weekend or retreat where the emphasis is so heavily on asana. However, asana will be provided. Starting with the body has a way of bringing us more firmly into our present state-of-being. Guided breath work is also part of the package; adding that awareness allows us to step into a more intimate dance with ourselves. That dance creates a pathway, leading us to breathe our way into connecting with what lies ‘outside’.
Much of what we encounter along the path of yoga is a process of going from the gross to the subtle. We can make a lot of very real progress in the course of one weekend, in part by imagining that any work we do is a kind of template that we place over other tasks, at other times. It makes perfect sense to start with the body and work with our initial concerns about physical ‘alignment’.
Eventually, that journey from the gross to the subtle, from muscle and bone to breath and the workings of the subtle body, gives way to something concurrently more personal, and more universal: the inner alignment that connects us to our true purpose, our ‘higher’ purpose, our ‘joy’.