Yoga by Ceci, Dacia and Gina in Rogers Park, Chicago IL

Windhorse: Preamble

Yesterday, at 3 o’clock Mountain Standard Time, I touched down in Denver on the first leg of my surge towards Granby, CO for the first ever Windhorse Conference.  For the next several hours, from all the four directions, from many continents, the Forrest Yogis will seep towards the mountains, congregating at 5 in the evening for our Opening Ceremony.  I don’t know how many will come, but I do know that in addition to those in physical attendance, there will be countless spiritual attendees as well, several healers, medicine people, spiritual guardians living and dead will be “holding space” for us, protecting us during our practice–as Ana invites them to do each morning–from any “toxic, stupid or malevolent energy.”  As eager as I am for the physical sweat, the physical poses, and the physical connection to my fellow Forrest yogis, the magical and mysterious are calling me too, with the sound of the drums already on my mind, I cannot wait for the ceremonies to begin.

Forrest Yoga draws heavily on the spiritual culture of the Native American people; medicine from the Cheyenne, the Navajo, the Lummi and S’Callam peoples, all of these come into the mysticism of Forrest Yoga.  Her connectiom to the Native People is paramount to Ana’s message and her mission–to “heal the Hoop of the People”–and invites it into practice in many forms (chanting, drumming, narrative about  “spirit” and mystery).  A small part of me belongs to the Cherokee people, not so far back in my history, and so, when we sing the Cherokee Morning Song, run around beating the drums and shaking our noisemakers, I feel very much at home.  Rather than singing to Ganesh,  who lives in India, or Parvati, who is mother to all, but in a remote country that I don’t call home, I sing to the ground beneath my feet, or the water that flows next to my home, or the eagles that fly over.  Singing to those things feels specifically authentic to me.

As Ana begins the opening chants this weekend, we will all be invited to embark on a 3-day sweat, a Native practice that deeply clears the mind and spirit of toxic energy.  When she calls in the Four Directions at the beginning of class, we will meditate on our intentions with purpose–solemn or joyful, through struggle or not–each one of us will contribute to the energy in the room.  And when we begin to move, that sweat lodge will be rowdy with energy.  There will be sighs, there will be laughter, there will be tears of joy and tears of release.  It will be a yoga practice, but it will be so much more.  The things we do–set intention, move through asana–will be the same as in every class, but at Windhorse they will be done with our teacher, with the strength of our numbers, and the power of many spirit guardians.

That may sound too magical, too “out there,” but personally, I believe in magic.  I buy in completely with the supernatural, paranormal, marvelous phenomena transpiring everywhere, all the time.  I also believe in analysis and I believe in science, but I am down with coincidence and open to the unexplained.  As a psychology major, I spent a lot of time working with the “subconscious,” an invisible database that exists in all of us, cranking out dreams, bizarre reactions, and mysterious behaviors.  When I started practicing Forrest Yoga and got to experience the surfacing of subconscious, and began tracking the movement of emotional wounds, I started to think that the subconscious database was actually in our BODIES.  The fact that yoga can shed light on the subconscious makes it of great value to the healing community.

The Forrest Yoga community holds space for many kinds of healers, and people who are healing.  At Windhorse there will be body workers, massage therapists, social workers, medicine carriers, bodies tattooed and pierced, students, world-travelers, people who have tried to leave this world and the ones who called them back, self-mutilators (by word or deed), mothers, daughters, sons, brothers, friends and lovers.  There will be many educational generations; the student will practice with the teacher.  I, for one, will have my brother, my teacher, my teacher’s teacher, and my teacher’s teacher’s teacher, all in one place!  It’s like that.  All of those spirited, beautiful individuals, and the guardians they call to watch over them, all of us will be sharing space for 3 remarkable days.  There will be, I think, a great presence of purpose.

We are all unified in purpose, we have all been called, in some small or grand way to assist Ana in her mission.  For some of us, it was our mission too, and Ana has given us the opportunity to do more.  We are making the world better, more whole, less broken.  We are using yoga to build a strong community, one that can face the challenge of mending the Hoop.  We are all coming to Granby out of some curiosity, love or intention for Forrest Yoga, we want to nurture its growth and its future as a modern yoga modality.  Because we gather under a unified cause–to mend, to heal, to reunite–I believe that our impact will be great.  It might even be magical.




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