It’s time for Cindy’s annual weekend workshop combining yoga and the Four Foundations of Mindfulness at Sunrise Yoga. This year, the weekend workshop is brought to you on Zoom. Bringing together the four foundations of mindfulness as a means to awaken the body to still the mind, each session will focus on a specific foundation, using yoga asana, pranayama, and meditation as a means to guide the attention to present moment awareness.
Friday 11/6 @ 6–8 pm = $45 Mindfulness of the Body: Standing Poses and Inversions
Saturday, 11/7 @ 9:30 am – 12:30 pm = $65 Mindfulness of Body Feelings: Chest Openers and Poses for Pranayama
Saturday, 11/7 @ 2 – 4 pm = $45 Mindfulness of the Mind: Forward Extensions to Quiet the Mind for Meditation
Sunday, 11/8 @ 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM = $65 Mindfulness of Mental Qualities: Twists to Wring it all Together
Register online, at SunriseYoga. Register for all days to save! $190 by 10/23; $210 after. Cancellation penalty applies. No refunds after 10/30
You can register at no cost for this class, which Cindy is offering through her Southern Dharma “At Home” retreat here. Once registered, you’ll receive instructions for how to join the Zoom class via email on Thursday.
Cindy greatly appreciates any donation you choose to make.
(PayPal is an easy method that does not require you to create an account. Use this link —Sarah Dollar, that’s her!)
I am stunned, numbed, outraged, and incredibly sad about the murder of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis police. His death, viewed by millions of people, led to largely peaceful mass protests in 50 cities in the U.S. and in dozens of countries around the world; thousands and thousands of people—black, brown, and white—gathered for nearly two weeks to express their anger and grief at this latest “lynching” of a black man.
As a privileged white female, the first thing I want to say is “I’m sorry” as meant by the Spanish phrase, “Lo siento.” I feel it. I am filled with sorrow for the pain that my race has inflicted on people of color. When I sit still on the meditation cushion and tune into all the levels of my feelings, sorrow is at the core. I have to acknowledge that first.
As I sit on the cushion, emotions and physical discomfort come and go. Over the years, I’ve sat through sadness, joy, confusion, and anger. At times, I’ve wanted to run screaming from the cushion because of the heart-rending experience of being human. Still I sit. I’ve learned that as those thoughts and feelings subside, clarity arises. From there, should I choose to act, the actions can emerge from clarity and compassion.
How do I take this clarity and compassion into the world when sometimes it feels so fleeting? How can I address what is going on now to help make real progress on racial justice and police reform? What can I do? What can you do to make the world a kinder and more accepting place for all? Each one of us has to decide for ourselves. When I look within, here are some options I’ve found. Perhaps they will resonate with you.
Notice and stay grounded. With kindness, acknowledge the violence within yourself and toward others. Be honest. Notice how you are in the world. How does racism, in particular, arise in you?
Look deeply at that. Do you live up to your own expectations? If you’ve fallen short, can you accept that and do better next time? Practice kindness and compassion. Start small.
Act in alignment with your highest ideals. Take responsibility. Apologize to yourself and others when you don’t. We are human. Sometimes our old conditioning and beliefs override our kind heart.
Do what you can to work for social justice, civil rights, and equality for all. Educate yourself about the issues that led to the Black Lives Matter movement and to ideas about changing the role of the police. Be deeply curious about the world of which you’re a part. As a citizen of the world, speak up! If you’re in the company of people who make racist or other prejudiced comments, gently but firmly call them out. Tell them how you feel and why. If you have the means, donate money (small amounts from many of us add up) to support to organizations that work towards a more just society. Join in peaceful protests, if you can do that safely (in a mask, using social distancing). If prayer helps you, go ahead and pray. Exercise your privilege in this democracy by voting. Help others exercise their right to vote.
This is a time to say what we mean and mean what we say. Start now to find ways to repair the world.
I planned to be in residence at Southern Dharma again this year to settle into the meditation hall for yoga and meditation, share silence and delicious, nutritious meals, and enjoy the serene beauty of western North Carolina mountains. I never imagined that a virus would sweep the world, affect so many families and businesses, and require us to creatively alter this plan.
Fortunately, we’re in the world of magic technology that allows us to be together in a different, yet intimate, way. Currently, I teach Zoom yoga classes from my home studio, during which I get to see inside people’s homes, meet their pets and children, and see what kind of practice space they have set up. I’d be honored to be invited into your home, if you choose to participate in this retreat. Likewise, I look forward to welcoming you into my home. There’s a special tenderness of being together in this way at a time when we’re asked to isolate ourselves from others.
The home of the four immeasurables, the limitless ones, is a place of both release and outreach: when we observe ourselves being frightened and reaching for more chocolate, can we notice that behavior with compassion toward ourselves, without judgment? And if we eat the chocolate, well, okay! There’s a pandemic going on…let’s eat chocolate! If we interact with someone who isn’t wearing a mask in the grocery store, can we tap into equanimity for that person who might be afraid in his or her own way?
Let’s be honest. We are uncomfortable with uncertainty. We don’t like not knowing.
Asana practice is a way to release into not knowing. During this time of emotional ups and downs, we have the opportunity to experience yoga as way to support our bodies and minds. We have the opportunity, on-line and at home, to stay embodied, soften our shoulders, and recognize our inter-dependency.
Southern Dharma and I are working together to create this at-home retreat as a way to support and comfort you, as well as to hone your tools of self-awareness.
No matter your personal situation, I’m confident you can find ways to participate in this retreat. It’s an experiment, like life. Just show up and see what happens. There’s no “wrong way” to do this!
As vacation time comes to an end, I’ve noticed how I begin to think of the future—as in, “This time next week I’ll be teaching a class.” On the heels of that thought is “How do I want to spend these last few days?” This scenario puts me in the middle of a mental ping-pong match, rather than in a place of openness to feeling the warm, moist breeze, seeing the bright, sunny sky, and hearing the roar of ocean waves landing on shore.
On either end of a trip, I find my mind bouncing between a to-do list to get ready and a list of what to do when I get there. What I’ve learned to practice (sometimes more skillfully than at other times!) is to catch hold of my bouncing mind, recognize what I need to do, and then do it in that moment. Pack my bathing suit. Done! Arrange for transportation. Check! Schedule classes. Got it! To take care of those tangible tasks is to be present. Then I can turn my full attention to being aware and present in the next moment. Thankfully, I continue to learn to stay grounded by focusing on the body on the yoga mat.
Find my feet. Keep my mind on the mat. Bring that wandering mind back to the tangible time on the mat and in life.
Part of what I’ve ping-ponged about while I’ve been in Mexico is how to revamp my teaching schedule now that I’m no longer teaching at Iyengar Yoga Asheville. In addition, you’ll see below that I’ve dropped two of the classes I previously had on the schedule and that I’ll be teaching at Wellspring Wellness Center in East Asheville. I’m thinking about adding some half-day meditation and asana retreats. I’m letting those ideas percolate without making plans. As my friend, Gene, taught me—a plan just gives you something to deviate from.
As I near the end of my delightful and relaxing vacation, I know I’m happy to return to the home and friends I love in Asheville. I know I will again enjoy teaching all of you, walking with Jack, and eating huge piles of fresh vegetables. In that future moment, I will be practice being present to being home. Now, I’m still here. We’ll see what the future brings. I’m going to let that ping-pong ball bounce off the table and see what happens.
STARTING MARCH 2: Please note the new class schedule for the Weaverville Studio and the Wellspring Wellness Center on the right!
Here at the end of January 2020, I ready myself to go to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, for the month of February. This year my husband and I will be there for 29 days. I watch my mind make list after list to get ready to go. Who will teach my classes while I’m away? Who will take care of Jack, the best dog in the world? Have I put enough money in the bank? In preparation for packing, I toss swimsuits, books, and sunscreen into the closet corner in preparation of languorous time on the beach.
The classes at my home studio in Weaverville are cancelled for February. I encourage you to take classes at IYA, or at Yoga East, or at a yoga studio of your choice. I’ll look forward to hearing about your yoga adventures when I get home.
During the month of February, my former class times at IYA will continue with teachers from that studio, except for Slow Yoga classes, two of which will be taught by Julie LaFleur, a guest Iyengar teacher from Tennessee. You will love her!
When I return to North Carolina at the end of the month, I will not return to teaching at Iyengar Yoga Asheville. I fully support what Randy and Greta are undertaking with a studio that offers only Iyengar yoga, but I have decided to expand my offerings, and will be teaching at Yoga East, where Rachel Fagan and Lindsay Majer teach their classes. I’m not quite sure what my class schedule will be. I’ll figure that out while resting my mind and body with long beach walks and yoga on the hotel roof. By the end of February, I will let you know what my schedule is at Yoga East and at my home studio.
So, how does that sound? Are you having reactions to the information? I know that I have had some feelings come up about these changes. I’m excited. I’m sad. I’m enthusiastic. Mainly, I’m open to the new possibilities that exist for all of us during this period of… well, of uncertainty about the future. The future is always unknown. Sometimes that uncertainty is easier to acknowledge.
I deeply appreciate your patience with the various changes that have shaped the where, what, and when of my classes these past couple of years. I appreciate your dedication to your practice.
While I’m in Mexico, I’ll be posting on Facebook. Class information will also be posted here as I decide on future class options.
During the month of February, here’s who will be teaching my former classes at Iyengar Yoga Asheville:
Thank you for being in my life. Really, each of you who reads these words holds an important place in my life. For real real, as we say in my family. For real real.
Most recently, I’m thankful for those of you who have come to classes at my new home studio in Weaverville. Thank you for finding the new place. Thank you for showing up for yourself, the practice, and for me. I’m grateful for Iyengar Yoga Asheville, for the other Iyengar teachers, and for those of you who attend classes there.
I know it can take time to adjust to change; it has taken me a few weeks to get used to teaching in my new yoga studio in Weaverville, and I look forward to sharing it with you. And I know YOU know that we experience such deep benefits when we practice yoga. Your body and mind will thank you for showing up on the mat!
Overall, I feel like I’m a thankful person. I thank my husband for fixing delicious meals. I thank each kind person who opens a door for me. I thank my friend who comes to the house to tend to our dog, Jack, when I’m unavailable.
I have another friend who gets cranky when someone opens a door for her. She knows that she is strong and capable. She doesn’t need the help. As much as I love this woman, I feel like she’s missing out on the feeling of gratitude.
Numerous research papers expound on the benefits of feeling grateful. A few of the benefits I found listed in an article online at PositivePsychology.com are more satisfaction with life, less fatigue, greater resiliency, and lower levels of cellular inflammation. I find that I actually feel better when I’m grateful. When I’m stressed, my body and mind feel hard. When I’m grateful I feel lighter. Test this out for yourself if you’re doubtful.
Gratitude is a practice, like yoga. It’s kind of like a scavenger hunt: when I look for people, places, and things to be grateful for, I find them! I don’t deny that I get cranky sometimes (like when I’m packing and moving). Without dwelling on that, I take a moment to feel that emotion, and then move on, rather than focus on the crankiness and the external events that triggered it.
With all that being said, I’m thankful to have a national day of thanksgiving here in the US. I know that some people feel left out, lonely, or sad about missing loved ones. I don’t deny that. Can we reach out to each other and hold each other up? Open a door? Smile? For those of you who volunteer at a soup kitchen or a food bank over the holidays, thank you. Of course, every day of the year is an opportunity to be kind and generous. We never know how one kind word to a stranger or friend can lift that person’s spirit—and our own!
With tremendous gratitude for your place in my life and on the planet, I hold you in my thankful heart.
Cindy is teaching a four-session workshop at Sunrise Yoga in Winston-Salem from Friday, Nov. 1 – Sunday, November 3. Striking a Pose Toward Inner Freedom: Yoga and the Four Immeasurables blends hatha yoga asana with teachings on friendliness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. In combination, these practices can lead to a path through life of personal growth, awakening, clarity, and freedom.
You can register for all four sessions for $190 (by 10/18), or for $210 thereafter. Individual sessions can be purchased separately. See the Sunrise Yoga Workshop page for more.