In The Middle

Life, Family, Yoga, Stuff


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Retreat Reminiscing

IMG_1290This past weekend I brought one of my favorite yoga teachers to town.  This marks the third year Thomas Fortel has visited our area and it’s been a real treat every single time. 

We’d originally planned to meet at OTC so we wouldn’t disrupt our meditation group that meets on Saturday mornings.  But I had a last minute change of heart.  Our group was smaller this year and the space at OTC was gigantic.  And we didn’t just have one space reserved over there, we had two.  The other space was reserved for our catered lunch. 

We moved to the studio with no regrets.  The feeling at the studio was amazing and everyone agreed.  We settled in on Friday evening with pranayama, soft spinal twisting and restorative postures.  That evening pretty much set the tone for the rest of the weekend, which was slow, steady and quiet.

On Saturday we enjoyed over a full hour of meditation and breathing.  This is the total treat of the whole weekend.  The quiet and the focus that happens when meditating in a group field is amazing.  When the lights come up, everyone is so relaxed.  Eyes are wet and black with mascara that’s left the lashes and bed hair is abundant.  And the best part is that no one cares that they look this way.  After that we eased into an active asana practice for a couple of hours.  We took in some partner work, inversions and vinyasas. 

 After our active practice we enjoyed a catered and extremely healthy lunch.  Candi Davis, caterer extraordinairre, served us some wonderful yogi wraps, quinoa salad, white beans with butternut squash and fruit with an assortment of hot teas.  We took in gluten free brownies and raspberry oatmeal bars with our tea as our after lunch sweet.  She brought all glass dishes, cloth napkins and real silverware and carted it away afterwards.  It felt very good knowing we had no trash or extra clean up on our part.  I have her number if you want it.  She really puts her heart in the meal and you can taste it. 

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On Sunday we all arrived at the studio happy and a bit sad to know this was our last day together.  We engaged in that quiet group field again for over an hour.  After that Thomas stepped it up a notch with a very active practice including inversions followed by a much shorter relaxation.  As always, there were a couple of people that showed up that I’d never met and that’s always really cool.  It’s work getting all of this together and happening.  It takes more than just me and I am so thankful for the help that I receive in order to make this event and others happen.  View more photos here.

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There’s something about really diving in for more than an hour or two that soothes the soul.  I’m still receiving positive feedback and I would really like to thank those that chose to spend their weekend in this way.  Thanks Thomas, for giving us a wonderful retreat and we know we’ll see you next year if not before.

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Kirsten and Thomas on Sunday at the end of the retreat.


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Feeling Spacious

I am feeling rather broad.  My whole body feels spacious.  I suppose a lot of people wouldn’t think that to be a good thing.  Who wants to feel huge?  I guess it’s all in how you look at it.  Today, for three hours I enjoyed a Pranayama Workshop at Teach to Inspire.  Amazing.  I love the pranayama practice.  In fact, the pranayama CD I own by Thomas Fortel is one of my favorites.  But face it.  I only have so much time alone to really do that, so class settings like today, are a must!

Abbe is a great teacher.  She did a beautiful job of guiding us through different variations with added visualization.  Who could sit and breathe for three hours you ask?  Me.  And 14 other people. 

I had been really sick the week before last.  I had subs for 3 of my classes, but that still left me to choke through 7.  After that, my eyelids flared up with some weird crud.  Burning, itching, swelling and watering.  I know.  Sounds like a yeast infection.  Headed to the eye glass place at Wal-Mart where they got me right in.  The doctor slipped some orange eye drops in my eyes and responded with a big, “Hell yes you have a bacterial infection of the eye membrane”!  Fabulous.  Where did I get this?  Who knows.  Eye make-up, a yoga mat, a shopping cart handle?  We’ll never know, and I’m feeling good about that.  I have drops (burning drops) to put in my eyes 4x day for 7 days.  Oh joy.  Today was the first day I was able to wear mascara, and I did, to the pranayama class!

We started the class today on our backs resting on fan folded blankets.  New way to fold for me and I won’t forget it.  I used two under my back and one for a small pillow.  We worked on keeping our chest expanded as we exhaled.  Something I love.  I think I love it as it’s easy for me to tap into.  Probably from all of those years of swimming, competitively on a team!  I immediately felt better after the first 15 minutes of this practice.  Simply amazing!  We moved onto other forms of breath work, mostly working with 5-elements (leaving out fire) as our afternoon was moving in a very calming direction.   I was not in the mood to take in a “skull shining breath” so I’m glad she left out the fire part!  I really enoyed the water element, the feeling of the back body becoming a bathtub of breath.  I guess being a Scorpio and all I suppose the water element is in me.

I highly suggest a class or a practice of this nature when you are able.  I knew my breath was not where it was supposed to be due to sickness, stress and other factors.  It’s so nice to take the time out of the day to check back in.  I almost didn’t go of course.  I’m like everyone else.  I have so much to do.  My house is dirty, the sink is full of tupperware needing to be washed and there’s always laundry around here!  Tomorrow is also the 16th birthday party for our son.  It was extremely warm out today and yard work was tempting. 

But no. 

I went to a 3-hour pranayama class and for that, I am thankful.

Everything will still be dirty tomorrow, or the next day.  And who really cares?