Day One – This place is magical, and you would’ve guessed it but I ought to tell you in case for even a moment you forget that it’s amid deep, and inviting looking mountains with wealthy vegetation and bright red earth.
The Sacha Munay folks are tender and calm, friendly and quiet. Perfectly aware of the climate, of the mood of the mountains. A sedentary meditation here at Sacha Munay, even the dogs feel it – laying peacefully in the patches of sun sprinkled through the trees and through the property.
Santiago, a shaman, I suspect, brings us small handmade goods from his village. The women had made them, and some were made specifically by his wife. All of the yogis indulge. It’s money for the village, it’s money for his family, and besides, they’re really beautiful. Undeniably so.
Our first class with Ashley starts with lecture and goes into practice. We spend the afternoon dissecting the “Mandukya Upanishad” and I am reminded of how beautiful philosophy can be when you can break it down to the experience of being a human being. I’ll not offer any type of brisk paraphrasing as it’ll dull the text. In any case, a theme we seemed to have stumbled upon, something Ashley mindfully weaved into our practice, is the idea of The Observer and The Doer. In our asanas, and later in our Savasana, I stopped myself short often mid-thought, mid “doer” thought, and observed the millions of ideas I was having about the space, the experience, the intention. In other words, it is a practice to simply learn how to lay still with yourself. It is a practice to do nothing in doing something.
It was a slow class, and Ashley’s singing during the Savasana was like an anchor that grounded me to to the mat, to the floor. It hadn’t occurred to me, until that moment, that I was doing a lot of thinking about doing and observing.
A lot of this training for me is learning how not to do – I think that duality, the Doer and the Observer, created a bright lightbulb in my recently mucky brain. Suddenly it occurred to me that I may be doing simply because I want to avoid observing. So much of my life depends upon it, after all, and the intention of yoga for me, at least, is to access that part of me that yearns to observe. To absorb. To access knowledge organically rather than racing to seek it out constantly. My goal for the month is to practice with tenderness and not with vigor._________________________________________________
Darina, (or Dasha) Sikmashvili, is a Brooklyn based freelance writer & director, and winner of the YogaWorks Teacher Training Photojournalist Contest.
She’s an avid practitioner of yoga & meditation with the eventual goal of getting beamed up to that little space ship she imagines hovering above our heads…
For writing & photo projects please check out: milkandhoney.nyc