Training Day 24: Ceremony
Swapped coconuts for cake
Favourite Yoga Pose: Dance-it-out-asana
Doused in sage, and pledged to noble silence we stepped into our 24th day of ceremony. This was a time to let go, to gather any last piece that was ready to break off...to shed our skin. The fire lit, the altar pieces laid out – we wrote our piece on paper and to the sound of drum and chanting we threw it into the flames.
Back in the UK, a favourite tradition to do at New Year's is to gather friends, huddle around a fireplace with some mulled wine and finger food, scribble down our regrets and successes from the last cycle and, chatting about past and future, watch yesterday curl and crumble into ash.
Ritual comes in many forms. My last teacher training ended with a Rishikeshi priest chanting the Vedas as he pressed ash to our foreheads and wrapped blessed string around our wrists. There was a fire ceremony then too – a dark square patch getting darker on the studio ceiling. Ritual.
After we had cleared the space of bolsters and (now empty) boxes of tissues, mats were brought out, iPod plugged in and “We are family” filled the studio floor.
Les called out “Own flow y'all”.
We've learnt to teach, now time to practice self practice. Handstand walking, wheel races, happiness and chaos ruled. Yogis climbing over each other to join the 'group frog time!' and then climbing onto each other to balance in crow on hips and hands. Legs everywhere. Ritual.
Looking around at this tribe – of professional dancers, doctors, actresses, personal trainers, social workers, photographers, writers, psychologists; all sloughed of labels and moving as they feel. No script, no sequence, no series, no seriousness. Beyond blessed.
And what do Vinyasa yogis love more than play? Community. And Cake. And there it was. Surrendering to the divine is so much easier when she comes in chocolate form. Ritual.
Everyone of us had time with the talking stick during our circle ceremony and during her time, feathered and crystalled stick pressed to heart, one of our number described this experience better than I ever could. At Christmas in Sweden, she said, they have big boxes of chocolates filled with all flavours of treats. Everyone has their favourite chocolates that they choose first [for me, it's the dark chocolate or coconut ones] leaving less favoured ones behind for others to enjoy. Les always encourages us to experiment, to play – 'take a bite' he always says, 'maybe you'll hate it, but how will you know? Condemnation before experimentation?'. So, she said, she has taken a few bites and selected her favourite training treats to add to her own super sweet box.
Wahe guru. For the freedom that you offer: to move, to feel, to flow, to breathe. To surf this wave.
It's just the beginning of the adventure.