Thursday, May 21, 2009

Escape to Yourself: Experience Your Own Personal Retreat

Waking up every morning to the sound of ocean waves and blue skies ready to practice only steps away from an emerald green lawn overlooking the turquoise blue crashing waves. For eight days, life was paradise on the Ruah & Joana Yoga Retreat.

We practiced yoga & meditation two times a day; went running; practiced my guaranteed 6-pack abs routine 4x a day, ate healthy vegetarian meals, swam in the soothing ocean waves; relaxed lazily in lounge chairs watching the horizon, discovered beaches & went snorkeling on a boat ride and explored the adorable town of Buzios.

On our last day I lead the class through 108 Sun Salutations to meditate on our transition into the end of the retreat. 108 sun salutations represents the number of beads in a mala or prayer garland/necklace, the 108 pithas or holy sites of India, the 108 Upanishads (sacred scriptures, the 108 marma points or sacred places of the body and the times around the circumference of the sun & moon to equal the average distance to the earth.

The beginning of the Sun Salutations flowed easily, I flew into chatturanga effortlessly although I found my mind also flying around. Each time my mind wandered, I did my best to reconnect to my breath and focus on my third eye, the ajna chakra. Wherever my thoughts were, I felt amazing – breathing in the fresh salty air, the morning sun on my shoulders and the blue sky radiating all around.

Around Sun Salutation number 60 or so, it dawned on me, “how will I maintain this bliss when I return to NYC?” I recalled my past experiences on retreats and how writing in a journal often helped – making it possible to read my own words expressing happiness in that moment. Yet words on paper would clearly only be a small part of reconnecting. I knew in my heart exactly what would recreate this sensation – exactly what I was doing already – yoga, meditation and pranayama (mindful breathing) guide the way and offer the best sensations in any environment.

Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras II.7 & II.8* remind us that while we attach ourselves to all that makes us seemingly happy sukhanusayi raga, and we create aversions to all that makes us seemingly unhappy (dukhanusayi dvesha) true happiness and peace has nothing to do with anything external, but rather comes from deep within ourselves.

Happiness is like a door that already exists within us, yet with the distractions of daily life it is always challenging to figure out how to open the door. With the keys of yoga, meditation & pranayama (mindful breathing), it helps us to easily unlock the door and sense an abundance of positive vibrations that come from deep within.

Once we take the time to clear away the clouds of vritti (busy thoughts) of the citta (mind), through connecting our mind body and breath, we naturally begin to sense santosha (happiness) in the center of our hearts. Yoga offers those incredible feelings – yet when we are in between practices, sometimes it is challenging to remember. That is why when practicing yoga, meditation & pranayama it’s a wonderful idea to remember exactly how you feel in that moment to inspire you to continue.

Committing to a yoga practice is like signing up for an endless personal retreat that helps connect to our inner santosha at any time within any environment – whether sitting at your desk at work or enjoying the warm breezes of summer! When santosha permeates in the body & mind, it becomes natural to reflect those feelings onto others in our lives and in turn share our bliss with the world around us.

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Ruah Yoga

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New York, New York, United States
Flow yoga, prenatal yoga, beginner or advanced yoga and spiritual meditation with guidance from NYC yoga instructor Ruah Bhay, M.A. Discover your healthy body and mind with private sessions.