Today I had the pleasure of assisting Sarah Schumann, the owner of Shambhala Yoga and Dance Center, in an open level class at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, in the Cherry Tree Esplanade! It was a peaceful and supportive setting and this was quite a lovely way to spend my Sunday morning.
I arrived at the Gardens right as the security guard was opening up the gates and was among the first few people to enter the gardens. Quiet surrounded me and I was quickly humbled by the enormous trees and I felt small yet expansive as I strolled towards the rose garden. I am used to walking through the gardens with other people milling about, and it felt very special to be there as it was practically empty. I took my time as I headed towards our yoga spot. I noticed the range of emotions that came up as I contemplatively walked through the greenery, I noticed how quiet and calm I became. The BBG is a special place for me, and I have memories associated with every visit I have experienced there, some happy, some painful. Though the grounds are thoughtfully landscaped, and therefore not "natural" in the sense of being like untouched mountains or a babbling creek, it is still a place that I like to go to when I need a break from the city and need to be recharged by nature. I always feel at peace when I'm there, and I was excited to combine two of my loves together- Yoga+Gardens=Happy Celina.
As I moseyed down the sidewalk towards the visitor's center, I saw a pair of giant brown tree-bark-looking moth/butterfly-creatures, just chilling smack dab in the center of the sidewalk. They stayed still for a while and kindly posed for my picture. These moth-beasts appeared to be around 4" tall and even seemed to be situated on or attached to some kind of strange base (not visible in the photo)....maybe it was their excrement? Anyway, they were cool-looking...a cross between tree bark and a moth and a butterfly. That's the thing about being in nature, whether it's constructed or
wild; there are always moments when creatures or plants or water
features command your attention and cause you to slow down a bit and
ponder life and all of its wonders.
As I approached the esplanade, yogis were getting settled in the area, some chatting, some remaining introverted, some busying themselves by setting up their mats and removing shoes, etc. An adorable family came together for the morning class, and as I introduced myself to them, I learned that they had experienced the last esplanade class together as a family as well. I can't think of anything sweeter!
I joined everyone under the trees and opted to remain matless, as I had planned to move around while assisting. It was a joy to feel the moist grass on my bare toes, my feet traveled in tune with the tiny hills and valleys of the ground. Sarah led a sweet class, focusing on our awareness of ourselves in our bodies, in this place outside, among the trees, the grass, the sky, the air, the clouds, and our neighbors. She has a wonderful approach and voice, and effortlessly guided us to connect our own physical bodies with the earth by beginning the class with a focus on our toes and the balls of our feet. It was an effective way to bring this awareness of the real physical connection of earth and skin that we were lucky to experience, barefoot in the grass.
Though my shoulder injury is still nagging me, I was happy to be able to demonstrate and practice with the group for a good amount of the class without abusing myself. I felt connected to the class in a way that is a different experience from
being a student, or a teacher. I was neither leading as a
guide, thinking and vocalizing as I would be as the teacher,
nor was I listening intently to follow directions, focusing and challenging myself as I would be in the student role. Assisting allowed me to gently guide and give manual adjustments, demonstrate, participate or quietly sit back and
observe and share the energy of the group. The class had it's own unique pace for me, which I created...and it was blissful!
Though this was the last yoga class of the summer at the BBG, Sarah has plans to continue the program though the fall and in the winter, and I look forward to practicing in the gardens. As a person who grew up in Las Vegas, where 4 seasons refers to a hotel, not a reflection of climate cycles, I take great joy in witnessing the visible, colorful changes that happen in plant life. I can not wait to experience yoga at the Gardens again come fall and winter. Until then, I'll continue to enjoy teaching my restorative classes at Shambhala.