July 23, 2013

Bring Your Mat to the Mountains. {Reflections from the Telluride Yoga Festival}

I slowly closed my eyes as I rolled my torso down onto my yoga mat.

Here, on the gymnasium floor of Telluride Elementary, a soft yet radiant voice gently drifted into my ears and settled into my heavy skull—the words of Allison English moved my stillness into a midsummer daydream…

On the Earth, my body rests—my soul nestled into a bed of soil, and my spirit covered by a blanket of sky. Seeds from my Savasana break open beneath my spine, popping into blooms from the Mother’s summer shower of joyful tears—salty drops running down the curves of my cheeks and into space between my lips.”

My sweat was real, and so was the rain. The two-and-a-half hour class—called “From Earth to Sky”—during last weekend’s Telluride Yoga Festival was so much more than just mindful movement; it opened up pathways of connection to all that is natural; all that is real.

“The Telluride Yoga Festival is really about deepening your practice in a truly sacred place,” said Aubrey Hackman, certified Jivamukti Yoga instructor and the festival’s founder and producer. “Telluride really has a special vibe to it, and it doesn’t look like anywhere else in Colorado. Instead of going somewhere that is more mainstream, it’s about getting off the beaten path and feeling Telluride’s powerful and unique energy.” 

The Sunday morning class, taught by Chicago-based Forrest Yoga instructor Allison English, provided deep insight into our connection with our inner and outer natural worlds.

“In Forrest Yoga, it’s not about the poses,” Allison explained. “The poses are a way of connecting into a feeling of the energy contained inside us.”

She continued, “From this ‘Earth to Sky’ class, I wanted students to feel that the entire time they are alive, every day, they have the earth below them and the sky above them; they are grounded, but they are not trapped, because the sky is always changing and it reminds us of the opportunities in our life—we are never stuck.”

The class truly brought the intention of the practice into focus. Throughout the 150 minutes of discussion, asana and pranayama, I continuously found myself glancing down at my right wrist to see what had been my festival pass—a red string “intention bracelet” with a single wooden bead—as if to remind myself that my intention was not unlike that of the practice I was amidst; in fact, it was just the same.

On the first day of the festival, Aubrey wrapped the red string several times around the base of my hand. As she tied the ends together, I closed my eyes to set my intention for the weekend—to move through sustained balance and natural rhythm.

As I type now, the bracelet is still resting on my right wrist. It is slightly looser, but the string is still strong.

Aubrey said the Telluride Yoga Festival experience is potent, no matter if you are a beginner yogi or an advanced practitioner. “The festival allows for people to really tap into their full experience, in one of the most beautiful and powerful places in the world.”





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Assistant Ed: Ben Neal/Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Main photo: courtesy of author; inset photos courtesy of Jay Rush}

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