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Decorating the Outer and Inner Worlds of Yoga

I have had some time to think about what I loved as the owner and primary instructor at Red Bird Yoga. Of course, first and foremost, were the interactions and connections I formed with the students. I cherish the memories of teaching to a room full of students eager to learn about the physical practice. I remember fondly watching  the students becoming stronger and gaining confidence in themselves.  I loved getting to know each and every one of the students, hearing them talk about how their lower backs or right hip doesn’t hurt anymore.

I have a home studio now, a separate building on the property where I live with my husband. We built it about 3 years ago and this is where, until recently, I would gather with groups of women for meditation on Sunday mornings. We stopped meeting in early March as the pandemic changed many things about the profession I love so much. It was deemed no longer safe for us to be in close groups, inside. I have been grieving over the the loss of guiding these meditation groups and teaching yoga classes.  I also know this is an opportunity for transformation. I am allowing the grief to be present right alongside the excitement of growth.

This past week I began reorganizing my home studio. It’s a two story space with my office on the lower level and the meditation space above. I love it for the beautiful view, big windows and the warm colors of wood beams and woolen carpets and the “fireplace” I use as a heater in the colder months. I have some of my pieces of furniture from Red Bird Yoga in my office. I have framed prints of the chakras, a beautiful goddess tapestry, candles and incense. I have the antique, white cabinet that was in the bathroom at Red Bird. And of course a few blankets and bolsters too. One of the changes I’ve made is to have plenty of meditation cushions. I chose earthy colors like rusty red, deep purple and linen.  You see, it is vital to be cozy and comfy while exploring your inner world through meditation.

In a recent phone call with my daughter Megan, I was telling her about how much I loved decorating the physical space that was Red Bird Yoga and making sure all was in place before students started arriving. I loved the change of seasons, for that meant I could hang colored lights in the outside trees or place springtime flowers throughout the practice spaces. Some of you may remember the autumn I collected tumbleweeds from my land and hung them from the ceiling in the front gathering area! It felt magical and fun, cozy and safe. I miss that. But something I have discovered over the last few months is that I have these beautiful memories that I can recall anytime I want. I visualize your smiling, beautiful faces as I sit in meditation. My heart is filled with love for all of you.

Yes, I enjoyed decorating, organizing, cleaning and sprucing up the practice spaces of Red Bird Yoga. The fragrance of burning incense and the flames of strategically placed candles along the front wall are so beautiful on those darker, colder late afternoons and evenings. And now I have a secret for you. Your inner world, your meditation world, is even more beautiful than a warm and cozy yoga studio. I’ve been cleaning and decorating my inner world for the last 3 years. Putting a shine on tabletops, bringing in new carpets with yellows and golds, purples and greens to lay across my floors. I drape my inner altars with tapestries from foreign lands, with statues of jeweled goddesses and crystals from afar. I now gaze out of the windows of my soul to see planets and galaxies spiraling in the night sky. This is a glimpse into my inner world which contains everything I love.

I understand that where there used to be tension and constriction in my body, mind and heart there is now beauty and relaxation. I have become my own best friend and let me tell you, that is coming in real handy during these months of quarantine and isolation. Less and less I reach to the the outer world to satisfy my needs and desires. I have come home.

Now as a meditation mentor, rather than witnessing the physical transformation of my students I get the immense pleasure of witnessing the shifting of their relationship with themselves. I love hearing them exclaim “You mean I don’t have to sit still and meditate?” Are you telling me that it’s normal to have lots of thoughts during meditation?” Or how their stress levels have decreased and their blood pressure stabilized.

These are the times of healing, on a personal and planetary level. So I ask you. How will you navigate your transformation?

All around you, in every moment,

The world is offering a feast for your senses.

Songs are playing,

Tasty food is on the table,

Fragrances are in the air,

Colors fill the eyes with light.

You who long for union,

Attend this banquet with loving focus.

The outer and inner worlds

Open to each other.

Oneness of vision, oneness of heart.

Right here, in the midst of it all,

Mount that elation, ascend with it,

Become identical

Withe the ecstatic essence

Embracing both worlds. 

                                                                                                             Sutra 50 from the Radiance Sutras translated by Dr. Lorin Roche


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