Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Yoga, Earthquakes, and Autumn





On a recent trip to Costa Rica we had the great good fortune of being at the epicenter of a 7.6 earthquake.  I say 'great good fortune' because this event provided us with deep insights and many rich lessons that have transformed the way we see the Earth and workings of life on this planet. We saw that the power of an earthquake not only lies in what we can see on the surface, shaking trees, swaying buildings, and moving earth, but affects a place deep within our psyche. For days, the earth shook.  Each aftershock sent a similar ripple of fear and excitement through our bodies and each time I had the same thought, "wake up, and look for the opening".
 
  
 There is really no safe place to be in an earthquake.  Often you will hear people telling you to get under tables, desks, and to stand in doorways.  In our case, each of these options would have resulted in severe injuries as bottles, glasses, and picture frames were being hurled at the table and doors.  Our best option was to get outside which we thankfully did.  As we stood there watching and hearing the sounds of the earth scream, shake, and moan, we were suddenly a part of a larger system.  All life seemed to be awake, attentive, and ready to move with the shifting of the Earth's surface. 

There is nothing in life that can prepare you for an earthquake. Perhaps doing yoga atop a jet ski or attempting to meditate on a roller coaster, but my experience led me to believe that the rattling power of an earthquake is a true wake-up-call.  Call it earth-surfing, or plate-cruising, and the same truth comes shining through, life is unpredictable so a be-here-now attitude can save your life. I will say that I think my yoga practice helped me through the experience and saved me from the possible burn-out of my nerves as each aftershock super-charged my adrenals. During the aftershocks, which ranged from 2.3 - 5.6, I watched my heart rate rise, my eyes bulge, my muscles tense, and I consciously employed my breath to bring my heart rate back down, and to relax my muscles.  For this, I can thank my yoga.

As a yoga teacher, I have been weaving my experiences of this quake into my classes.  The themes of "attentive surrender', "looking for the opening" and "life is not still", have been great ways to explore these Earth-lessons. My relationship with the Earth will never be the same. I can see and feel that she is a great yogini herself, taking on the faces of Lakshmi, the goddess of fertility and abundance in one moment, and in the next moment taking on the face of Kali, the firey goddess of destruction. It is this dual nature of the Earth that makes her dynamic. Never before have I been so grateful for the powerful forces beneath the earth and as an inhabitant of this planet, it is an honor to attentively surrender to
 these deep shifts.


As a yoga teacher, I have been weaving my experiences of this quake into my classes.  The themes of "attentive surrender', "looking for the opening" and "life is not still", have been great ways to explore these Earth-lessons. My relationship with the Earth will never be the same. I can see and feel that she is a great yogini herself, taking on the faces of Lakshmi, the goddess of fertility and abundance in one moment, and in the next moment taking on the face of Kali, the firey goddess of destruction. It is this dual nature of the Earth that makes her dynamic. Never before have I been so grateful for the powerful forces beneath the earth and as an inhabitant of this planet, it is an honor to attentively surrender to 
these deep shifts.
  
It is through big shifts like these that our perceptions broaden.  We start to look at the world around us as transient, changeable, and impermanent.  We see that there are no 'safe' places and that we are all vulnerable to shifts that are greater than us.  The coolest thing is somehow we are able to not just survive these changes, but we are able to thrive! Perhaps it is good time to stand barefoot on the earth, look up at the vast sky above and say "wow" and "thank you" the unseen forces that reside above us and underneath us.

As the seasons shift, I have been steadily working at our studio, Sky House Yoga, to gear up for the fall season. I've watched the studio activities wax and wane and I've been working with these new teachings to create our new Yoga Class schedule that starts Monday, September 24th and we will be bringing back our Full Moon Ceremonies starting Thursday the 27th.

During my time in Costa Rica I also pulled out some of my old yoga teaching texts and refreshed my knowledge of the asanas, sequencing, and philosophy. It is great to be home and I feel refreshed and re-inspired to share this powerful and potentially life-saving (this is me being dramatic) or life-prolonging (less dramatic) practice with my students. It is my hope as a yoga teacher that the tools you acquire through your practice will help you to find that flowing adaptability that will support you no matter how tumultuous things get. 
With two big eclipses, an election, and weather changes already in the mix, whatever we can do to steady ourselves internally, will prep us for whatever changes may come.


Wishing you a dynamic fall,
Ashley

3 comments:

April Rameé said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
April Rameé said...

Whoa! Amazing to hear about your event. I could only imagine being outside the safest place for an earthquake. Amazing that you got to feel what it is like while being outside.

~April

Ashley Sky Litecky said...

Yes, April, it was incredible. To see, hear, and feel the earth move like liquid was something that will live inside me forever. Thanks for reading my blog, I hope you are well and shining :)