Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hawaii Retreat - Last full day

It was an incredible day on the island. They say we're having summer weather right now. Hotter than the winter usually is, and No Rain!
We started the day with a meditation out on the point at 6:30 am, to watch the sun rise on this full moon day. It was truly divine. We finished with some impromptu partner yoga stretches. And then as we were taking pictures, 3 humpback whales showed up, breaching and spouting! What grace! They did it several times! What a perfect way to end our morning. And today was the day to focus on joy!!!

After lunch, I got an Ayurvedic massage and fell asleep. Tough life!

After dinner, we had a floating full moon kirtan! We had a kirtan planned, but since it was full moon and we hadn't been to the hot pools yet, in front of the ocean, we decided to have our kirtan there! Kelley and her husband played harmonium and Tablas on the edge, and the rest of us floated around on our foam noodles and joyfully sang along. What a great way to chant the names of the divine!! Now it's bed time!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Kalani Food!

I am loving all this tropical fruit! We get fresh papaya, mangoes, pineapple! Plus blueberries and more every morning. They make the most amazing granola sweetened with maple syrup! Eggs, oatmeal, toast, even rice bread and sunflower butter are available too! We've had Mahi Mahi (not endangered and no mercury), plus seared Ahi tuna, Hawaiian chicken, great baked tofu, a delicious seafood salad, an amazing carrot-parsnip soup, and other incredible savory dishes. And a great salad bar with homemade dressings twice a day. And the desserts! Chocolate cream pie, orange-walnut cake, a delicious chocolate cake, and recently, a vegan cheesecake that melted effortless on the tongue. It just keeps getting better!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hawaii Retreat - 5th night

We have an incredible chocolateer with us who brought several of her bars and truffles made from African, Madagascar and Dominican Republic chocolate. So, we had a chocolate tasting session before class today! How heavenly! I never knew how different each country's chocolate can be! Some fruity, some with a punch. Wow! I loved the Dominican one with nuts and cranberries. It's redder than other chocolate and has a fruity, astringent quality. I think I may have to become a chocolaholic after all!

Hawaii Retreat - Day 4

Well, it's been an incredible week. I just love hanging out with great people in the tropics, talking about yoga, and helping people open to new places in their bodies and minds. Plus, there's nothing like having amazing meals cooked for you 3 times a day, 80 degree weather, no driving, a pool, hot tubs and sauna (plus a bath tub in my room)! to assist in deep presence and letting go.

Each day, I've taught on a different theme. Here's the themes for the week: Intention, Awareness, Shri, Grace, Joy, Celebration- one per day. I've been complementing the theme with poetry from Hafiz and Rumi, among others, and great music. Each morning we have an early Somatics, meditation and pranayama session before breakfast. I've loved watching the dawn and listening to the morning bird songs as we sit in meditation.

Then for 2.5 hours, we have asana before lunch. Each day has gotten a bit more challenging and we have been focusing on back bends! Today, lots of anjaneyasana and pigeons! Tomorrow: Back to assisted wheel pose - 2 partners this time. Saturday- Drop backs (assisted of course)!

We have a long afternoon break after lunch where people head off to snorkel, to the local black sand beach, get massages, nap, swim or whatever. Today, 9 of us went to the local Green Lake, known as a sacred site for the Hawaiians. A gorgeous and tranquil spot.

Each afternoon session, before dinner, we've focused on deep hip opening and restorative poses. It's been so sweet to hear the evening tropical sounds of birds and frogs begin as we finish in savasana. Tonight, lots of yummy shoulder work too, like cow face pose and twisting child's pose. Yesterday, fire log, twisting pigeon, upavishta among others. Woa, that was a deep one! People were swaying their way to dinner!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hawaii Retreat Journal

I am having a spectacular time on the Big Island! We are having incredible sunny and warm weather. In fact, they say it hasn't rained for months! (probably not so good...)

Kalani Retreat Center:
The first night I arrived, totally exhausted from getting up at 4 am and jet-lagged from a 2 hour time difference. Luckily, I came in time for an excellent dinner and got my favorite cottage across from a yoga room and a group that was just finishing. Well, it turned out, their last night was a Marimba concert and workshop! It was great music, but I was ready to sleep and it was very loud as there's no glass windows, only screens. Fortunately, they followed the curfew and stopped at 10 pm (midnight to my body) and I got to snoozing right away!

First Morning- I left my room at 7 am to go get a meditation mat, and promptly locked myself out of my room! There was no way back in and I couldn't get a key as the office wasn't open yet. I decided to go sit in the yoga room instead. Unfortunately for me, people from the yoga group were practicing in there. What to do? It was a cool, beautiful morning, so I walked to the Blue Moon room, where my group was scheduled to meet. I thought I could sit there. but no! There were people in there doing chi kung. What to do? I kept walking on a path I hadn't seen before and found a Passion Fruit tree overflowing with fruit! It was all over the ground and totally ripe. What a score! I crouched down and ate two, ripping them open with my hands and squeezing the juice all over my face. They were heavenly. I felt like an aboriginal forager. Then I kept walking and was drawn to this sunny area off the road. I thought I could do my meditation there and it would be comfy and warm. As I got closer, I saw that it was a small labyrinth made out of black lava rock, perfectly set in the morning sun spot. I settled in front of it for a slightly-too toasty meditation facing the rising sun. Great tropical morning bird sounds, warm breeze. This is paradise. I was so happy I'd locked myself out of my room and couldn't use any of the yoga spaces. This was just what I needed; time in nature. What serendipity!

After a huge breakfast of eggs and tons of fresh mango, papaya and banana, I met with Omkar, my group facilitator and he apologized about the marimba concert. I hadn't even said anything. He offered to move my room as there was a belly dancing group coming in next and they were having night classes - not so conducive to sleep! He showed me the new construction. These are great clusters of cottages and meeting spaces with kitchens. The one-room cottages are bamboo and very sweetly decorated with local art, gorgeous african mahogany cabinetry, woven bamboo walls, painted glass doors, painted concrete floors, and deep bath tubs. What a score! I moved in after lunch. I got to meet an older couple from California who purchased one of these homes and styled it out with their own fine hand crafted knobs, mahogany bed, hand-painted tiles. They stay much of the year and rent it out the rest of the time. Hmm, very intriguing idea....!

I taught my first public (pre-retreat) class at Kalani at 4:30 - 6 pm yesterday. 14 people came. It was very cool to meet some locals and even to see an Arcatan walk in the door who's been living near Kalani for a few months! Small world. They all liked it and many of them were interested in joining the retreat. I don't usually do this, but in the aloha spirit, I offered them to come to classes with us (if they could commit to at least a few) even if they couldn't do the whole thing. A few have come so far and it's worked out just fine.
We started the retreat after dinner with an opening circle. It's a lovely group of folks - from Maine, Arizona, California (bay area and Arcata), Quebec, Switzerland, and Hawaii. Half of them are new to Anusara, many newer to yoga in general. So, we're starting with the basics- Opening to Grace, muscle energy and inner spiral and some shoulder opening today. We had a sweet hip-opening and restorative class in the evening with some live kirtan from the local Kalani kirtan wallahs. Tomorrow, more inner spiral. I'm loving sharing poetry and creating new ipod play lists for our classes. Been having some great conversations, enjoying meeting new people and getting to know familiar folks better. And the food has been phenomenal! And the weather couldn't be better! And the hot tub, pool, bathtub. I'm truly on retreat! It's been a great first retreat day!!