We Become One – August Re-Treat

As usual, I open with a comment about how I can’t believe how fast time has passed!  I meant to write a little update on the August re-treat half day straight after teaching it, and here we are a month later!

When I planned the August half day, I really wasn’t sure about the timing.  So many people had asked when the next date would be after the April workshop, and there seemed a lot of interest in a summer day of some kind.  But I was conscious of holidays, summer parties, weddings, and all the other lovely things that the warmer weather and school holidays bring.  I tried to avoid obvious dates like the first two weeks of the school holidays, when I know a lot of people go away, and the August bank holiday, which is always a popular time for events and family get-togethers.  So I took a gamble and booked 20 August.

2 weeks after advertising and I only had 3 spaces booked – panic – as the April workshop had sold out in 3 days!  I promised myself and those who had booked that I would run it if 7 places were booked, but any less and I would need to cancel.  But slowly and surely, places were booked, and eventually 11 of the 15 places were taken – hurrah!  Many of the regulars couldn’t make it this time, but we had lots of new faces which is also lovely to see.

Some of my favourite yoga philosophy is based around the idea of uniting opposite energies, lunar and solar, masculine and feminine, and I love the analogy of sun and moon inside the body: ida and pingala, and the solar plexus and the half moon shape we find at the sacral joints.

The ancient texts often make reference to the sun and the moon – in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika slokas 2:7 to 2:10 describe Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing) entirely by reference to the sun and the moon.

“The yogi, having assumed Padmasana, should inhale prana with the moon. After holding as long as possible, he should exhale with the sun.” 2:7

“He should fill the interior slowly by inhaling prana with the sun. After holding in the prescribed manner, he should exhale with the moon.” 2:8

“He should inhale through the one with which he exhaled, hold with effort, then exhale slowly and without force through the other.” 2:9

“If prana is inhaled through the Ida and retained, it should be exhaled through the other. If the breath is inhaled through the Pingala and retained, it should be exhaled through the left. The nadis of yogis who regularly practice in this manner of sun and moon become pure after three months.” 2:10

The sun and moon references in this text refer to ida and pingala, the left and right nostrils, and we practise Nadi Shodana as a way of balancing the left and right, the feminine and masculine energies, the yin and yang.

I attempted a whistle stop tour of some of the classic texts to draw together the themes of lunar/solar, masculine and feminine, which I hope wasn’t too dry and theoretical for everyone! We practised Surya Namaskar (Sun Salute), and also Chandra Namaskar (Moon Salute), which is less well known, to investigate the heating and then cooling effect of these practices, agreeing that the ideal practise is to warm up with the sun and cool down with the moon.

I think this has been my favourite workshop to teach so far, if one is allowed a favourite child!  I do love them all, but the theme of this one just tips the edge for me!

As always I tried to provide some healthy-ish snacks for our break, and added some ‘Raw Brownies’ to the mix this time.  OK – not tempted by the word ‘raw’?!  It just means that the ingredients didn’t need cooking.  They went down very well, including with the professional chef who was attending the day – yay, happy days!  So I will post the recipe on the Facebook page for those who asked.  I can’t claim the credit of course – they were taken from the ‘Deliciously Ella’ cookbook by Ella Woodward (more about her recipes another time).

So Autumn approaches, and soon I’ll need to plan the Relax and Restore Autumn/Winter half day!

Don’t forget to make time for your practice, slow it down as the seasons change over, and take the time you need to ground yourself.

Om and Prem, See you on the mat!



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