Seven years ago I found a copy of yoga teacher Matthew Sanford’s book Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence, in the local used bookstore. The book lit me on fire: Not only did Sanford’s story of loss and healing profoundly move me, his deep and unique experience with yoga’s ability to transform touched into my own and inspired me to teach to people with disabilities.
For much of my life, I was shy and withdrawn, deep in my own world and very uncomfortable in public settings. Over time, though, yoga, mountain ventures, friendships, and a variety of healing encounters have opened me up and connected me strongly to the life around me. So this summer I boldly ventured forth to participate in the Arise Music Festival in Loveland, Colorado, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
“Patience is not learned in safety.” -Pema Chodron
Spring tests my patience. Every single year. Especially here in Colorado, as the weather whips back and forth between snow and sun, and as calm mornings give way to blustery afternoons, my patience is tried every spring. I become anxious for warmer, more stable weather.
Every spring, I am reminded once again that I am not in control. Patience is the only way through.
We humans, though, don’t learn patience the easy way. We don’t learn patience when things are going our way. Rather, we learn patience when we are tested, and when we finally have to accept that we can’t control the world.
“Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays…”
I can hear Perry Como crooning those familiar words now, evoking images of that Norman Rockwell family gathered round the holiday table, turkey steaming, silver gleaming, family smiling … The idea of home for many of us evokes thoughts of comfort, welcome, love and belonging. Or it should, in an ideal world. But the reality of going home, especially during the holiday season, may be very different.
Expectations often don’t match the inevitable reality: while you may be yearning for ‘peace on earth, good will toward men,’ the fact is, those relatives you don’t get along with the rest of the year are unlikely to make a miraculous change for a day or two. Maybe your children have fledged the nest and won’t be home this year. If they’ve married, they may be spending the holidays at someone else’s home. Perhaps this is the first holiday you’re facing after the death of a loved one. The thought of going through the motions in the midst of grief holds little appeal.
Whatever the circumstance, there are occasions when you may not feel like singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with Bing Crosby. Spending part of the season far from stressful settings may be just the gift to give yourself … Or, you may wish to pack up the family just this once and go some place more restful, without all the hassle and hoopla — at least not any that you have to host and clean up after!
If you’re feeling impulsive, last-minute deals at the holiday season are often available to fill cancellations or leftover space — it’s worth a few Google inquiries, if you’re in the mood to mosey. So, whether it’s this year or another, here are five holiday travel ideas to restore body, soul or both.
On the first day of my 30-day detox, I could almost hear its caffeinated whispers wafting from the steaming mugs at my local coffee shop, calling my name and tempting me with the promise of caffeine-induced productivity.
I didn’t get any withdrawal headaches, but by the first afternoon of my detox adventure, my head felt fuzzy and my body on-edge. What had I gotten myself into? This is ridiculous … I can’t be addicted to coffee. No, I just love coffee. As a matter of fact, I actually read that it aids with mental stimulation and exercise endurance!
“You see, Kim, coffee is undoubtedly a vital nutrient,” chimed a perfect pillow of latte foam from a passing customer’s to-go cup.
It’s only a month, I reminded myself as that foggy first day eventually fell into a cloudless sunset.
But wait, I can’t have wine either?
I will begin with the admission that in this life, I have been extremely blessed. In the course of my work in the natural foods industry, I have been present at nearly every major yoga + music festival around the country. Wanderlusts, Bhakti Fests, Tadasana, Yoga Journal, you name it, I’ve been there distributing snacks, squeezing in some classes and generally reveling in the vibe.
I know that the moment you read this title, “Finding the Goodness in Life,” some of you cringed. Why? Because there is a lot going on at this point in time that would not be considered “good.” But what if, in everything, goodness existed?
I once had a client who was contemplating suicide. They did not see any reason for living and could find nothing in their life that was worthwhile. Every week, I prayed that this person would continue to show up and work with me.
Morning practice in the Gaiam TV tent. Photo © Jeff Pistana
It’s been a couple of weeks since the Hanuman Festival, and the afterglow is still radiating. Hanuman is the first yoga conference I’ve ever attended, so I had no idea what to expect. I anticipated feeling part of a larger yoga community and being pushed out of my yogic comfort zone (in a good way). What I actually received was exponentially more than that.
This June, dust off your travel yoga mat and head to beautiful Boulder, Colo., for the second annual Hanuman Festival! More than your typical yoga retreat, Hanuman combines yoga, music and community, all for some great causes.
When: June 8-10, 2012
Where: Boulder, Colorado, near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains
The yoga: The all-star instructor lineup includes classes with Kathryn Budig, Tommy Rosen, Kia Miller, Amy Ippoliti and many more.
The music: Enjoy concerts featuring Desert Dwellers, Jim Beckwith, Ashlee K Thomas, David Newman (Durga Das), Vamadeva Jaya, DJ Drez, The Pushpams, David “Duke Mushroom” Schommer and many more. Artists will perform during select yoga classes as well as at scheduled concerts.
- Off the Mat and Into the World, a program that “uses the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change.”
- The Wellness Initiative, which seeks to “improve the physical health, social and emotional development, and academic performance of low-income youth through yoga-based wellness programs.”
- Give Back Yoga Foundation supports and fund certified yoga teachers in all traditions to offer the teachings of yoga to under-served and under-resourced socio-economic segments of the community.
Gaiam is especially excited for this event because it’s one of the only yoga festivals to take place right in our own backyard — less than eight miles from our Louisville, Colorado headquarters! Gaiam and Gaiam TV will each have booths at the festival, where participants will be able to check out our newest yoga mats, DVDs and other gear, as well as meet some of your favorite yoga instructors who will be stopping by to say hello or help you perfect your poses.
We chatted with Cara Fogel Ferrick, Hanuman’s sales and marketing director, who gave us the scoop on what sets Hanuman apart (and where that name came from!).
Tucked between the Colorado foothills and a watering stop for migrating Canadian geese are the Gaiam corporate offices in Louisville, CO. We have a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains from all west-facing windows, but it’s the view from our rooftop that takes my breath away.