Opening Circle

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Opening Circle

Looking at this photo, taken on the roof deck of Fekra Cultural Center in Aswan, makes me smile: oh, how over the course of the retreat, this empty circle filled! With people, with yoga practice, with peace, with camaraderie, with yoga! What an opening it created for each individual and for building community! When we gather with intention and explore yoga while-heartedly, things open…

The connections (to practice, to nature, to ourselves and with each other) made those days continues. On Facebook, the jokes, photo postings and well wishes keep on coming, but also in a more subtle level, there’s this sense of nourishment and calm in the body, heart and spirit.

And while time for retreat has passed and real life with all it’s complexities draws us further from our experience in Aswan, I remind myself that a circle has no beginning and it certainly has no end.

Photo: The start of the first Ashtanga in Aswan Retreat on December 19. Our circle awaiting filling.

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Yoga Present

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P1220769Yoga Present

It’s the 24 of December. Christmas Eve in Aswan, Egypt. This afternoon, we are starting a second retreat here at Fekra Cultural Center in El Shalail, Aswan–for someone who grew up Catholic, it may seem strange to be working at this time of year, but really I can’t imagine a more perfect way of celebrating the holiday.

It’s a very different Christmas. There are no nativity scenes here, no tinsel, certainly no holly. There are no presents wrapped under a tree, at least not the kind one would expect; regardless, this is a time of giving.

There are different ways that we define “present.”

Present. An adjective. To exist in the moment. The etymology of this comes from the Latin, pre = before, esse = to be.

Present. A noun. A gift, an offering. There’s the notion of bringing something into someone’s presence.

Present. A verb. The act of showing, introducing, giving.

I can’t help but think that this might be my most authentic Christmas yet. Here we are about to start a yoga retreat, practicing tools that bring us into the present moment. All of us, reveling in the act of sharing, giving ourselves and each other sacred time and space.

This retreat is but a humble offering, it’s not wrapped in any fancy paper, there aren’t any fairy lights or surprise visits by Santa, but it’s real and it’s loving. And I feel so blessed to have another nine yoga explorers join us here in this very special place, honoring us with their whole-hearted presence.

Photo: Tree pose with Christmas Tree in the Old Cataract Hotel in downtown Aswan. A group of us went to enjoy a little Christmas cheer with coffee and cake!