Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Yoga by the Fire

When I'm on vacation, I always try to fit some yoga in, preferably in front of some lovely scene that I wouldn't normally get back home--a bright, sandy beach; a cool, shady forest; volcano-top; etc. We were in New Harbor, Maine two weeks ago for a family reunion of sorts, so I had an opportunity to "down-east" it up yoga-wise. I was thinking Vrksasana (Tree Pose) on a lichen-y rock, Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) in front of a brisk, blue-grey Atlantic, or Virabhasdrasana II (Warrior 2) in front of the Pemaquid Point lighthouse.

Well, Ma Nature was not going to play. It was grey most of the time and rainy part of the time, so our outdoor activities were a bit limited. Which was okay, because in early-summer Maine the fog and mist make sense and are actually quite beautiful. And there were enough dry days to still explore tidal pools, pre-revolutionary forts and eat steamers and lobster on the dock. But yoga outside--not so much.

Every evening, we had a fire in our cabin to warm it up and dry things out, so I decided to try my practice in front of the hearth. There might be some Ayurvedic proscriptions against my dosha (Pitta-Kapha) doing yoga by the flames, but I found it very centering and relaxing. If you've ever sat in front of a campfire and been mesmerized by its shape and color, you can imagine how soothing doing yoga would be.

I did a few chest openers and stretched out my thighs: Gomuhkasana (Cow's Head Pose), Garudasana (Eagle--arms only), Hastasana (Overhead Arm Pose), Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero's Pose), Supta Padangusthasana (Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe). At the end I simply sat in Sukhasana (Easy Pose) with my hands in the Apan Mudra (See Yoga, Dogs and Chocolate for a nice description) and stared into the fireplace, enjoying the warmth on my face and the pop and crack rhythm of the damp birch logs.

It wasn't what I had planned for, but whodathunk, the fire is a great centering focal point. Crustaceans + Kaizen= great Maine yoga!

(More images of Pemaquid, here)

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