In the blink of an eye, summer is past. Vacations are over, school is back in swing, the evening temperatures are starting to drop and it actually feels like the crisp of autumn is making its way to the desert.
Where did the time go? It seems like forever since I wrote my last newsletter and connected with you on a group level. I have been traveling much of the late spring and throughout the summer, contemplating the meaning of “home” as I am so often away from it.
I arrived in Kingston, Jamaica under the full moon of early June. The ocean air is dense with moisture and a chorus of whistling tree frogs welcomed me as Sharon’s driver took me to her home, where a steaming bowl of homemade pumpkin soup awaited me! After a quick change of clothes, I am whisked away to meet Sharon at an amazing party, Jamaican style! Plenty of music, dancing, a fashion show and a host of regional artists showcased their creativity, with proceeds to benefit a local children’s school. I am in love with Jamaican Art. The goddess spirit, color and mystical magic woven into canvas spoke to my heart; as did the community of Shakti Yoga Jamaica! They embraced me with open arms and hearts, truly a Kula of Joy! I taught daily classes along with workshops on the Yoga Sutra’s and Restorative Yoga. I can’t wait to return in October for “Shakti Love Fest.” Check out the side bar for more information on this amazing Charity Event co-sponsored by Sharon Feanny, founder of Shakti Yoga Jamaica and “The Shaggy Foundation."
To my good fortune, I happened to be there at the peak of mango season! They were succulent, ripe and juicy, and I couldn’t get enough of them! Another surprise was to be discovered at Debbie’s home, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. We were having dinner on the outdoor veranda when the light of the full moon filtered in through the overhead trellis. Debbie’s husband jumped up and said, “Let’s go see if it’s blooming.” We made our way to the spacious front lawn where I witnessed the tallest Saguaro I had ever seen. It looked oddly, and uniquely at home amidst the tropical flora of Jamaica. To our delight, two big blooming cactus flowers regaled us with their open beauty under the kiss of moonlight. It is said that each flower opens in the middle of the night and closes the following day. Life is ironic ... A desert full of Saguaro in Arizona, and I had to go to Kingston to see one blossom. A rare sight indeed!
A few weeks later, upon my return to the states, I led a group of students on an amazing retreat in the heart of the Grand Canyon. It was in perfect timing with a nearly new moon, so that a trillion star canopy cradled us to sleep each evening. Literally, a ceiling of stars peek through the trees to rim the canyon like a crown of majesty; a jet-black sky studded with pulsating light! What can possibly be more majestic than nature at its finest?
We began our adventure together as we helicopter into the village of Havasupai and then hiked the rest of the way down to our camp at the base of Havasu Falls. After a quick dip in the river to cool off, we practiced yoga surrounded by the cathedral walls of the canyon under the golden hue of the setting sun, which warmed our bodies as well as our spirits. Hors d’oeuvres riverside followed by a five-star gourmet dinner prompted at least one marriage proposal for Josh, our chef/tour guide extraordinaire!
Each morning we did sunrise yoga followed by a hearty breakfast to bolster our day hikes too spectacular to describe in short. Our guides from Arizona Outback Adventures (AOA) were incredible and vastly knowledgeable. We learned so much from Josh and Tim, enjoying the spectacular beauty that shapes the ever-changing canyon as we explored the natural spring showers and stunning displays of travertine. Last year’s flood rerouted the river to the point where a number of falls dried up while new ones were formed. One in particular caught our attention. A new 35-foot waterfall proved to be too delicious to pass up as a few of us took flight into the waiting pool of turquoise below. This was both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time, and ... once was enough!
Later that evening, we discovered a flower called Sacred Datura that is rampant in the desert. During the day it looks like a white-spiraled tube surrounded by dark green foliage. Yet, at the last yawn of twilight as the sun drops behind the canyon and the sky grows dusky, we watch as the shakti filled pod of energy begins to unfurl, literally quaking as its essence prepares to unfold. It seems as if there is a breeze blowing the swaying tube, yet it is the very pulse of life inside, and all of a sudden it burst into a trumpet shaped flower, white, tinged with lavender, casting a luminous glow as its potential was revealed in a stunning display of ethereal beauty. Each blossom lasts but one night under the bejeweled black sky.
Our ten-mile hike out on the final day was challenging, inspiring, and deeply rewarding. A memorable good time was had by all! Take a look at the side bar for a sneak peek of my next collaboration with AOA to British Columbia in July 2010!
In between these two grand adventures, the merriment continues while touring with and teaching yoga to country duo sensation Sugarland! Yes, I know! I lead a charmed life! I have been traveling with them once a month since late April and was out the entire month of August. I would fly out every Wednesday afternoon and return to Phoenix on Sunday in time to do laundry, repack, and teach in the valley on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, and then catch a flight again, later that day. I finally just left my pillow on the bus as I found I was sleeping there more than in my own bed! We added much needed restorative elements to this season’s yoga practice as I really got a taste of life on the road! Jennifer and Kristian are deeply committed to their own well being and living a healthy lifestyle, which includes yoga, acupuncture and traveling with an organic caterer. I eat better on the road than I do at home! Dega Catering, "You Rock!!!" They are based out of Knoxville Tennessee, and Hollis Church, the founder, owns a yoga studio there as well. Check it out! www.glowingbody.net A special shout out goes to Head Chef Kris O'Connor, who pours love into every tasty morsel she creates. Thank you for nourishing me - body, heart and soul!
We will finish this year’s tour next month in New York City, at Madison Square Garden! I can hardly wait. I love NYC! And, YES!!! The answer to the question I get asked the most is YES! They really are that nice! But, what you may not know is that besides being beautiful and enormously talented, Jennifer is wicked funny, and the queen of witticism! And, Kristian, well ... his crystalline blue eyes melt my heart every time he smiles and says, “Welcome home,” as I meet up with them again on the tour bus after some time away. And it reminds me that home is not a particular residence in a specific location, but a place inside that I carry within me wherever I go, whether it be the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, the depths of the Grand Canyon, or in a bunk on a bus traveling across the country. Home is the dwelling place within my own heart that echo’s “wherever you are is the entry point” ... for life’s grand mystery to play out!
As we usher in the change of seasons, may our hearts be filled with the wonder of utterly ordinary moments filled with grace. I hope to see you soon in class, or at one of the many upcoming events.