The second spring yoga hike was a success! April, my student and friend from Starseed Yoga, was the first to arrive. Next, Adria, my sister's friend from high school. Holy cow, reunions are fun! Then Gigi, another teacher from Starseed Yoga, arrived with her Spanish speaking student, Naomi. Last but not least, Harsha and Dave came, kindly donated $10 each and then left due to previous engagements. So the five of us took off to hike the mountain. Starting at the summit of the reservation, we climbed down to gaze upon the infamous South Orange waterfalls, properly named Hemlock Falls, which is a spot I have been coming to for nearly half my life! On the way down we spotted two chipmunks playing. To stand on top of the waterfall, we followed the staircase or rock wall climb (yogi choice here) up for another look-out spot. Being near the falling water neutralizes the body, as the spray of the water releases negative ions which are calming to the body. We sat for awhile breathing and taking in all the beauty of nature. After a restful break from hiking we ascended back to the top of the mountain for some revitalizing Hatha Yoga. On the way to the cars to get our mats, an owl flew over head! Before asana I offered this reading from my teacher, Guruji Reverend Jaganath Carrera:
The Open Heart
"Love is never idle. It always seeks the welfare of others.
"The true nature of the heart is like water. Its nature is to flow. Flowing water brings life. It nourishes and cleanses. This quality of love is so powerful that even water that is restricted still finds a way to move in the form of vapor. We can't resist the flow of love.
"Love expresses as selfless service to others. When we serve, we fully realize the love that is already within us as our True Nature. Everyday, find some way to bring benefit to someone else. The efforts need not be heroic or dramatic. We can let an elderly person in front of us on line at the grocery, we can pick up a candy wrapper off the sidewalk, we can pray for the well-being of all creation - in all these ways and more, the love that is within will find its way out. The greatness of this is that we are nurtured by the very same loving act that we have dedicated to someone else.
"All virtues come naturally when the heart is open. Patience, mercy, honesty, and integrity will be ours naturally. Not only that, the mind can focus more clearly and steadily. The body's health improves and the mind is uplifted. Love is the key that unlocks all that we seek.
"That is spirituality. This is the Yoga life."
Asana sequence: Sukhasana (easy seat), simple seated twist, Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (upward bound hands pose), neck circles, shoulder rolls, Gomukasana arms (cow pose), tabletop, cat/cow, Balasana (child's pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog), Balasana > Ashtangasana (eight pointed pose), Uttanasana (standing forward bend), Surya Namaskara (sun salutations), Virabhadrasana II (warrior II) > star, Parvritti Virabhadrasana (reverse warrior) > Parsvakonasana (intense side angle pose), Prasarita Padottanasana (wide legged forward bend), Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Dhanurasana (bow pose) prep and pose, Apanasana (yoga hug- knees to chest), Sucirandhasana (ankle to knee pose), Jathara Parivartanasana (stomach turning-around/twisting pose), Savasana (final relaxation pose) with guided relaxation with a detailed body map, beginning at the feet and working towards the crown, relaxing each part one by one. Deergha Swaasam Pranayama (three part breath) and guided breath meditation counting the inhales (odd numbers) and exhales (even numbers) up to ten and then back to one again. A portable meditation that can be done anywhere to still and calm the mind.
Asaato Maa Sad Gamaya Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Lead us from unreal to Real. Lead us from darkness to Light.
Lead us from the fear of death to the knowledge of Immortality.
OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti!
Lokaah Samastaah Sukhino Bhavantu
May the entire universe be filled with Peace and Joy, Love and Light!
[Note: On Friday, 4.8.11, I went to scope out the mountain and went for a hike with my dog, Zeus. While there we had three animal encounters in which all animals crossed my path. The first, a red headed woodpecker, who flew like ten feet in front of me, showing me the most magnificient black and white stripped feathers on his wingspan. The second, a red fox whom Zeus and I saw from a distance but who crossed my vision's path. The last, a beautiful deer who symbolizes love, trodded past our hearts and eyes, again in the distance. The animals come out to play in the spring. Each sighting is a symbol and can tell us a message if we are willing to look and listen for it.]