Sedona Yoga Festival; Life’s Little Victories

I anxiously awaited the arrival of February 6th.  I was going to the Sedona Yoga Festival.  As a participant, but also as an assistant.  A huge opportunity for me.  And a huge learning experience.

Every experience in life offers these opportunities.  We can choose to embrace them or simply ignore them.  Ignoring them I have found only kicks the can further down the road and sometimes makes it come back with a bigger (aka HARDER) lesson.  Best to learn early, learn quickly.

But first some beautiful pictures…

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My mom came with me on this trip.  We used to travel every once in awhile to Yoga workshops but this was the biggest trip we have ever made together.  And since we haven’t done it in awhile, we were both super excited.

Our friend Kate Williams, a fellow yogini originally from Kansas, also joined us.

The first day we were there was rainy.  Which might be even more beautiful than a sunny day.  Or maybe not.  It’s really hard to say.  Sedona is one of those magical places in the world that is so beautiful, so breath-taking, in every direction, every view.  The next is only better than the last.

We went for a hike on Friday – a free afternoon as the classes we had signed up for were cancelled.

My mom and a tree.
My mom and a tree.

I love the trees in this area.  Their bare, stark beauty.  Their bold lines and surprisingly elegant curves.

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Me with mom and our friend Kate.
Me with mom and our friend Kate.
Taking a break under a ledge.
Taking a break under a ledge.
Yoga on the ledge.
Yoga on the ledge.
Second try.  The first time I tried this mom was looking at the rocks instead of at me.
Second try. The first time I tried this mom was looking at the rocks instead of at me.
Coffee Pot.
Coffee Pot.

Learning experience #1) I need down-time.  I think I knew this.  Must have forgotten.  Or thought that since I wasn’t traveling with my children it somehow didn’t apply to this trip.  It does.  I was exhausted.  But I refused to slow down and take a little “me-time”.  I kept pushing.  And ended up sick.  So Friday night I tucked myself into bed to watch the Olympics and recharge.  I also ate a cheeseburger.  Nothing sets you right like comfort food! 😉

Saturday morning we woke up to SUNSHINE!!!  Yes, that deserves all caps because if you read my blog a few weeks ago you’ll know that Boise has been seriously lacking in the sunshine department and that this was definitely in the top three of my “reasons to go to Sedona in February” list.

But first, Learning Experience #2…

I was asked by a dear friend and one of my favorite yoga teachers, Lori Tindall to assist her class at the festival.  It was the whole reason I went.  I’ve never had such an honor and honestly could not believe my luck.  She also brought along the lovely and talented Sadie Babits (to connect with her on Twitter: @sadiebabits) to be in charge of photography and social media.  She’s allowed me to use her pictures here.

Lori Tindall.  Photo by Sadie Babits.
Lori Tindall. Photo by Sadie Babits.

Here is what I discovered.  Even though I am very familiar with Lori’s teaching style, her flow, her way of adjusting, as an assistant I was neither the teacher nor the student.  I was an awkward in-between.  And boy did that bring up some sh!t.  You see, when teaching a Yoga class, I get into this zone.  I feel things, say things, do things, that I’m not always consciously aware of.  They come from somewhere deep inside.  That place in me that is connected to the Divine, the place in me that is infinite.  That place that is connected to each and every student.  A class flows from me.  I do not plan it or forcefully shape it.  It is organic and every class is unique.  From that place when I walk around, talking and occasionally assiting, I know who needs help when.  I feel when they need my words and when they need a hand.  I intuitively sense when they need to be left alone to work on it in their own way.

As a student I am also deeply in tune, but with my own Self and my own body.  Everyone in the room is completely shut out of my experience.  It is as if I am alone.  Same connection to Divine.  Completely different experience.

View from the mat.  Photo by Sadie Babits.
View from the mat. Photo by Sadie Babits.

As an assistant (especially a first-time assistant), I could not feel either connection.  I came in all twitterpated.  A jumble of raw nerves still pinching myself at my good luck for being asked by Lori to be there.  So my debut as an assistant felt like a flop.

I was not connected.  I could see and analyze in my brain what was going on with these people.  But it was mechanical, thought-based.  “Tight hamstrings and shoulders. Possible knee injury.  Big Ego wants to go too deep.  Foot issues.”  These things were going through my head but since I wasn’t the one actually teaching, since I wasn’t saying the words out loud, and I didn’t always know what Lori would say or do next, I would hesitate, hold back from helping a person find more ease in a pose.  With the first hesitation, the disconnect grew and then my mind started to chatter, quietly at first, but louder and louder as the two hours went on, “What are you doing here?  You call yourself a teacher?  You don’t belong here.  You’re not good enough to be here.”  And once the chatter starts, it’s really hard to stop.

Enjoying the discussion before class started.  Photo by Sadie Babits.
Enjoying the discussion before class started. Photo by Sadie Babits.

The class was wonderful.  Lori is a gifted teacher with a wealth of knowledge of Yoga, holistic nutrition, and Reiki and Prana Chikitsa. (For more information on any of her teachings, check out her website: http://www.energyseven.com/ , follow her on Twitter @yoginilori, or Instagram OMgirlTRIs).  But I left there with a heavy heart and my subconscious really enjoying giving me an ass-kicking.

The afternoon was open to us, the sun was shining so a hike was definitely in order.  We donned shorts and t-shirts, sunscreen and sunglasses.  Most of which hadn’t seen any use in months.

Ahhhh.  Much better.  Nothing lifts spirits like sunshine and fresh air.
Ahhhh. Much better. Nothing lifts spirits like sunshine and fresh air.

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Mom doing "Victorious Pose" which she learned in Lori's class.
Mom doing “Victorious Pose” which she learned in Lori’s class.
Yes, we are yogis.  Wherever we go, we do Yoga!
Yes, we are yogis. Wherever we go, we do Yoga!

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Doesn't it look like a cloaked figure just passed through the rock, leaving only their shape?  Well, we thought it did.
Doesn’t it look like a cloaked figure just passed through the rock, leaving only their shape? Well, we thought it did.

The remainder of the trip was mostly uneventful, but still very fun.  We hiked to a Vortex – one of the energy centers that Sedona is famous for.  We took many, many, many pictures of the red rocks.  We did some Yoga.  We ate mouthwateringly delicious Italian food.

Sadie and Lori also went hiking and they decided to do a Victorious Pose on the rocks as well.

Lori and Sadie.
Lori and Sadie.

Sunday night we met up with Lori and Sadie and their husbands, Doug and Nate for another mouthwateringly delicious meal – this time of the Mexican variety.  I did my own version of Victorious Pose after finishing my margarita… 😉

Dena

And then this guy at the next table thought it was cool so he wanted to do it too!!  I love people’s enthusiasm and willingness to play!

Coach

Kate, Mom, and I.
Kate, Mom, and I.

We had great conversation, learned more about each other, shared our experiences of Sedona and of course had great food.  Followed by the requisite group picture taken by our dear server, Angel.

Mom, Kate, Sadie, Nate, Me, Lori, Doug.
Mom, Kate, Sadie, Nate, Me, Lori, Doug.

Looking back on the weekend, I have realized a couple of key things about myself.  I will sacrifice my own needs for what I think others want and expect of me.  Instead of taking one hour to rest, ground my energy, and check in with myself, I kept pushing because I was there to hang out with my mom and Kate.  I didn’t want to be rude or thoughtless.  If I had just taken a little time, I would have been able to enjoy the movie with them and would have felt good.

Also, I’m really hard on myself.  Really hard.  I have huge expectations of myself and when I don’t live up to them, I am such a harsh critic.  It’s time to stop that inner chatter and remember my gifts and talents.  Or realize my faults and lovingly accept them.  To not succumb to self-doubt, but to walk with confidence.  Both of these lessons are about loving myself.  Wholly and completely.  Just the way I am.  By loving myself, I can give of myself more fully.  I can love others the way that they are.  I can tap into the Divine, whose essence is Love, and allow that to flow into and through me.  The light in me, will see the light in them.  And that we are all ONE.  And in this realization, we will all find VICTORY.

Mom and I.  One last picture on the drive back to Phoenix.
Mom and I. One last picture on the drive back to Phoenix.

Namaste,

Dena

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6 thoughts on “Sedona Yoga Festival; Life’s Little Victories

  1. A wonderful story and valuable lesson on being kind toward yourself. My Sufi teacher likes to say, “You are already perfect, and there’s always room for improvement.” 🙂
    Take good care of the ‘best Dena we have’, please!!

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