Yoga Awareness Meditation Retreat in The White Mountains

Yoga Awareness Meditation Retreat in The White Mountains

~ flow yoga as experiential metaphor to bring meditative awareness into the rest of our lives ~

In this one day retreat we will experiment with yoga postures and breath as awareness meditation, cultivating an increased ability to sustain presence and center ourselves at will. Developing this skill consciously together in practice will help us recall this quality of awareness when we most want to, or need to, be present in the rest of our lives.
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Starting with a short hike and meditation along the Pemigewasset River, we will then retreat to the sanctuary of The Mountain Club on Loon to integrate our meditative awareness into an indoor yoga asana practice. After lunch we will ride the gondola to the summit of Loon to practice in the forests of the White Mountains.
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This class is accessible to students of all levels. Simple postures will be offered for newer students to hold and develop awareness, while more experienced practitioners will be guided into more complex postures to refine their skill and attention once the simpler postures become easy. We will experiment to find our own unique expression of the potential of each pose.
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Bring clothing for yoga and a mat, layers appropriate for the weather outside, a towel and swimwear, and footwear suitable for light hiking. In case of inclement weather, we will utilize The Mountain Club as much as necessary and go outside as weather allows. Lunch is available at area restaurants, including The Mountain Club, or you are welcome to pack your own.
Please arrive well fed, enough to sustain you until lunch time.
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Make it a weekend retreat with spa services and discount room rates through The Mountain Club,
or with private instruction or a Thai yoga session with Denise.
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Denise practices in nature as much as possible, accessing a playfulness and deep awareness that she brings to her classes. In addition to teaching at the Mountain Club on Loon, she is the seasonal yoga instructor for the Loon Mountain Snowsports School and The Saint Anselm Cross Country Running Team. She leads yoga and meditation at The Plymouth House, a residential retreat center for drug and alcohol recovery, which has helped develop her teachings into a practical life skill that helps free us from dependence and confusion, awakening our potential through awareness and centering. She also brings yoga to festivals and events throughout New England and along the east coast. Her style derives from many traditions of movement and meditation and adapts to fit the specifics of her clientele. Denise is also available for personal and group private yoga classes and Thai yoga sessions.

Saturday August 10, 2013
9am – 5pm
The Mountain Club on Loon
Lincoln, New Hampshire
$80 – includes lift ticket

For more information or to register call 603 568 5977
or visit http://awarenessretreat813.brownpapertickets.com

deniseporterkemp.com

poise

“Always move with a sense of unhurried grace”
– Parvathi, paraphrased

I remember this in times like these
when I am running around busily taking care of things…
breathing steady to find the calm and grace
in the midst of the movement
without having to break my stride.

turiya yoga

lafayette backbend
turiya yoga
~
turiya
is pure raw awareness
underlying all other states of consciousness
always accessible
all of the time
~
yoga is the continuum
and the practice
yoking all polarities
as parts of the same whole
balanced at the center
~
turiya yoga is a playful exploration
uncovering the spontaneous, embodied, direct experience
of our interconnected consciousness
manifesting uniquely
through each of us
~
body geometry
aware consciousnessmy shri chakra

Coming to Attention

Notice sometime when you are engaged in an activity that holds your attention. How you don’t have to try so hard to concentrate, it just happens. Spontaneous focus, effortless attention. Recognize what that feels like.

Then play with purposely focusing your attention while doing simple everyday things that are not so inherently interesting. Recalling the sense of ease you experienced when the focus happened spontaneously on its own.

Notice when you get distracted, and shift your mind back. No big deal. You might have to do it over and over again. Rather than fighting your mind, play with it. Keep coming back to what you are doing. Sharpening your mind with the focus, and letting your mind rest in attention.

Not to block out all of your thoughts, or that thinking or contemplation isn’t ever useful. Yet slowing down the momentum of your compulsive habitual thoughts and developing the capacity to pay attention at will. Not only when attention arises organically, whenever you want it, or need it.

By practicing this in less charged situations you give yourself experience so that when you find yourself in more difficult scenarios where you need to stay aware and important moments when you want to be present, you have developed an increased ability to do so by choice.

Scratching the Itch

I used to get really annoyed when people would suggest sitting completely still and not scratching an itch that came up during meditation. And even more annoyed when I would try and do it. I find great peace in stillness, and I found I could sit much more comfortably in silence for longer periods of time if I adjusted my seat occasionally and scratched itches when they came up. Then I was not so distracted and aggravated by my discomfort. And could just get on with the peace.

And I like this metaphorically as well…why stay stuck in something that is not working when you have the capacity to easily fix it? Plus, I know of numerous stories of people who messed up their knees and legs by forcing themselves to stay in seated meditation for too long in positions not suited to their body. Sometimes it even set off a bit of a panic in my body. I felt trapped if I couldn’t move.

I saw this discipline as an archaic tradition that I didn’t want to carry on. In theory sure. We can sit through what is uncomfortable. I get that. But in practice not so much. It is too dangerous. Could set people off or injure them. I like to view myself as part of the evolution of the practices, helping translate and adapt them to make them practical to our lives today. And I tend to see too much strictness as a block, enforcing an absolute paradigm on subjective experiences.

And yet, once I had convinced myself that I could move anytime I wanted too, that no one was forcing me to not scratch the itch, that I had the choice…I began to play with not scratching it. Breathing through the discomfort and experiencing the sensation of the itch blossoming across my body.

Sometimes I focus right on the itch as the center of my awareness, in its full blown intensity. Meeting it. Sometimes I utilize the breath as the center of my awareness, a tether that keeps me calm as I experience the cycle of the itch. Often it gets more intense before it starts to dissipate. Sometimes it is excruciating. Sometimes I find myself inadvertently scratching the itch or moving my position before I even realize what I am doing. Other times I catch myself right before I unconsciously scratch, and pause the momentum. Some itches come on really slow and I feel them as if they are coming from far away. Experiencing the itch as it crests and as it passes.

And sometimes I just choose to scratch the itch. Without too much judgement that one choice is better, just noticing the experience and the results. Sometimes scratching the itch brings relief, for a while at least, and sometimes it just sets off every other itch that wants scratching. Each time is a little different. Through time and paying attention I become more adept at discerning when a pain is a signal that I need to adjust to protect myself and when it is just a passing discomfort. And I get better at listening, and more creative at adapting. Cross-legged on the ground is not the only way to meditate.

It’s true, I can always just scratch the itch. If I can reach it. Yet in life I can’t always so easily fix what is uncomfortable. Or worse. And I began to experience how sitting through the itch, by not moving my body right away if my legs get achy or my back gets tired, that I am cultivating the capacity to stay steady and go through uncomfortable stuff when it comes up inside me, in the moment, in the rest of my life. Without having to react. And without having to block it either.

And not just in theory. The practicality of sitting through the itch. Yes, it passes. And also practicing how to go through it while it is still happening.

For if I have to scratch the itch to be alright, I am not free either.  And if I have to feel “peaceful” to be truly at peace in any circumstance, I stay a slave chasing my own comfort. Which is not always possible to maintain.

Its not that I can’t scratch the itch, but maybe I don’t have to.

Which is pretty empowering.

I like the metaphor, and the experience, of this too.

The Space Between

There is nothing that I need right now.
Appreciating this. I know it won’t last.

Something will wear out and need replacing.
I will become hungry, or tired.
An inspiration will arrise that warrants being followed.
Sometimes I thrive on the chase.
Sometimes it runs me ragged.
And then that will pass too.

In this moment, I rest in balance.
The still point, the space between the desires.
The tide of my breath pulses through me.
Recognizing. Gratitude for this.

The sun slips behind the mountain.
Ah. Here it comes.
And I am off and running again…

asymmetrical adaptation

Something that I have noticed experientially through my own yoga practice and in working with others is that our bodies are not symmetrical, and we benefit from working with each side of the body uniquely as well as a part of the whole organism.  I often do slightly distinct sequences on each side in my own practice and when working with others individually, adding in extra poses to help prepare one side for a pose that is difficult on that side, or holding some postures longer on a tighter side and others longer on a weaker side.  Finding approximate balance within the realities of an asymmetrical body by working with each side from where it is coming from.

While teaching group yoga classes though, I have been taught and have found it is functional to do the same sequences on both sides, and hold each side the same amount of time.  As teachers, we are offering a general potential template to fit a wide variety of students, and while we can offer suggestions on placement and alignment, and variations we have seen be useful for others, and assists that accentuate the possibilities of the posture, it is ultimately up to each student to experiment with the template and find what fits the uniqueness of their bodies.  In class I often suggest exploring in each posture to discover what is useful from the internal experience of your own body, rather than trying to fit your body into a preconceived idea of what the posture is meant to look like from the outside.

This is one place where individual instruction and personal practice can really be useful, both on its own and as a compliment to group practice.  Without the pressure of keeping up with the class, you can take the time to listen and respond to the cues of your body, exploring what is useful in that moment.  Being willing to notice what isn’t useful too, even if that is in conflict from what you think you want… This point is an essential ingredient to keep from ignoring what you don’t want to see, and only taking in what you like.

All of this can be done in a class setting too, yet an individualized practice allows the sequencing and timing to cater specifically to your own eccentricities.  And practicing on your own can help facilitate discernment through the yogic principle of svadhyaya, or self study, of when we are listening and responding to subtle cues versus pushing our own will, by noticing the intention behind the action, and its result.

All of which helps train our minds and our intuition to notice and adapt in other areas of our lives as well.   Then in the moment, in yoga class or anywhere, you can take in what is being offered generally to the whole and mindfully experiment with how it uniquely applies to you – and in terms of asana, or yoga postures, to each side of your body…

The way to balance, adaptation, depends on where you are coming from…