By Ellen S. Gibson
The beginning is always today.
Greetings Yoga Friends:
I’m writing this in front of a campfire at the South Branch Pond campground in Baxter State Park. It is one day after the fall equinox, a cool, clear evening. The stars are dazzling. The moon is waxing. My partner, Stephen, and I are on our annual Baxter trip.
This is my first blog for Katey and the yoga community at Posabilities. My name for this endeavor is “On and Off the Mat.” I often think how my yoga practice accompanies me through the day, to whit: hiking these past few days, sleeping on a hard platform (unyielding, even with a foam mattress). Waking early, I move and stretch on my yoga mat, looking up at the trees. Like the Princess and the Pea, I keep finding (and removing) sticks that lie under the duff. I also find some sore and creaky places and explore them cautiously, reminded of Katey saying, “Finding the sore spots it the first step. The second step is figuring out what are you going to do about it.”
Ahhhh, cat and cow, flexion and extension, becoming conscious of inhaling and exhaling. Arms up overhead, stretching the side body first to one side and then the other. Inhaling, sitting tall, exhaling, twisting right, holding, breathing, then repeating to the left. I will revisit these movements at many heights along the trail. My breath goes with me, and its steady regularity brings my thoughts to order.
At lunchtime, I take off my shoes and socks, stretch my toes, rotate my ankles, and enjoy the wind on my feet. I find a comfortable, smooth rockface and settle on my back with my knees in constructive rest position, hat, or glove over my eyes. Pause, breathe, meditate, rest, relax, sigh, snooze, enjoy.
We push on again. When the terrain is steep and unforgiving, legs aching, heart pounding, I move through a slice of the world, one step, one root, one rock, one fallen red leaf at a time.
Yoga has been my exercise of choice since I was a teenager. I knew intuitively it was good for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I wish I could say I practiced regularly during all the intervening years. (How might my story have been different?) The years went by until I took a prenatal yoga course when pregnant with my first son, and a few years later, discovered Lilias Folan on public television. Her calming, grounded presence brought calm and moments of peace during the hectic years of raising three children.
In my later years, yoga has increasingly reached into my life and grabbed me. For me, it is the foundation, the very definition of well-being. Wishing to delve deeper into the richness of yoga’s history and culture, last year, I took the 200-hour TULA Yoga Teacher Training at Posabilities. What an amazing odyssey of discovery! I will write more about the class and bring in the perspectives of my fellow students.
I look forward to interviewing Katey, Kat, Shannon, and the many teachers whose experiences and knowledge have converged to make Posabilities what it is. I would like to understand yoga better as it relates to neuroscience, try laughter yoga, learn more about accessible yoga. There are so many areas to explore, from the personal to the universal.
As we embark on a journey of ideas, please know I am by no means an expert. Far from it! I am a student—of writing, of yoga, of life—and this is a conversation I look forward to having with you.
Wishing you well,
Ellen S. Gibson is a writer, educator, student, part-time farmer, cheesemaker, mother. She really does enjoy wearing different hats. Her day job is with Maine AgrAbility, a program that supports farmers with physical and mental limitations (and doesn’t that describe everyone?) to continue their work in agriculture. She has introduced yoga and mindfulness to her clients to address arthritis and musculoskeletal injuries from farming and gardening. She writes the Maine AgrAbility blog, Gotta Lotta Livin’ To Do.
She lives and writes from her farm on Stearns Hill in West Paris, raising Nubian goats and managing this historic farm.
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