Winter’s Gift

Winter’s Gift

“When we are attentive to our actions we are not prisoners to our habits; we do not need to do something today simply because we did it yesterday. Instead there is the possibility of considering our actions fresh and so avoiding thoughtless repetition.”

    …TKV Desikachar

Winter scene
 

As we move toward the winter solstice, we can bring our awareness to the messages of the coming season. The deciduous trees have let go of their leaves so they can husband their life-sustaining resources. Most perennial plants have died back to the ground in a time of dormancy. Ground hogs, rabbits, and chipmunks hibernate or reduce activity to conserve their heat, food, and water. We, humans, dress warmly to go outside, heat our homes, nourish ourselves with warming, heavier foods, and perhaps rest and sleep longer encouraged by the increasing hours of darkness. Warmth and energy are to be conserved this time of year, whether you are a maple, a lily, a groundhog, or a person.

Along with the cold that all life must pay attention to in winter, there is also a stillness that can feel quiet and reflective. This quiet energy calls to that same energy within each of us. That is why I look forward to winter. It is a time of reflection.

As TKV Desikachar’s quote above reminds us, it is easy to slide into activities that we perform out of habit. They may be things we think about as “being what I have always done.” Or we may think that they are things expected of us, so we just do them. Yet, our days can become filled with activities whose usefulness and appropriateness to our time of life has faded. Or, they may be activities that have become so habitual that we do them mindlessly, so at the end of a day, it may be hard to recall where we have spent out time.

The quiet space winter offers can be a call to reflect upon “our actions.” We can examine what may have become part of our life just out of habit. We can ask ourselves what activities or commitments may no longer serve us or fit our stage of life? What changes might we make to live more intentionally and in keeping with what is most important to us?

Dharma is a concept in yoga that refers to personal responsibilities. Thinking about our dharma means to be aware of our own unique nature, our roles, duties and responsibilities to ourselves and society. For example, I have the dharma of a teacher. I also have the dharma of a wife, a mother, and grandmother. In terms of societal dharma, I have the dharma of a citizen in a representative democracy. For me, I need to look at what these mean in my life as a woman of 70 years. What are my responsibilities, and what are the actions/activities I want to have in my life? How do I balance these responsibilities?

The answer, according to my teacher Fran Ubertini, to whether we are on the right track is how we feel. We know we are in the right dharma because our “heart is content.” We are acting from a calm and focused mind.

Yes, I look forward to winter. I see it as a gift, providing space to reflect on the choices I am making. It is an opportunity to apply Desikachar’s advice to my actions and activities “fresh” and consider whether they are in keeping with my dharma. Winter may look like a fallow time, but it also may be an opportunity to plant seeds that will grow and blossom.

Spring Yoga at Loaves & Fishes Farm

Spring Yoga at Loaves & Fishes Farm

Spring Yoga Farm imageCome Celebrate Spring’s Beauty
Led by Elizabeth Terry

Saturday, April 14, 2018
Loaves and Fishes Farm
1810 York Road, Dover PA 17315

Yoga from 10:00-11:30am. Light lunch and fun to follow!

If the weather cooperates, we will be outside for yoga, if not, inside. Bring your yoga mat, walking shoes and farm friendly clothes so you can visit the newest members of the Farm. A free will offering will be accepted to support the work of Loaves and Fishes.

Please reserve your spot by April 11th:
Elizabeth Terry eterryyoga@gmail.com or (717) 645-0067

For more info on the farm, check out their Facebook page – Facebook.com/LoavesAndFishesFarm or contact:
Farmer Jen Briggs jenbriggs@comcast.net or (717) 774-0794
Farmer Bonnie McCann bonniejmccann@comcast.net or (717) 319-7721

When you become part of the Loaves and Fishes Farms’ family, you join us in our commitment to grow and eat healthy food that replenishes the soil and protects air and water.”

 
Directions (from Harrisburg area)

Interstate 83 south to the Yocumtown Exit. At Light make a left and then an immediate Right on to Taylor Road. Follow that road for about 3.5 miles. You will cross over Rt. 382 (Lewisberry Road) which then becomes York Road, this is curvy and you will pass the Susquehanna Speedway and the farmer market on your left and you will pass a church and school on your right. The Loaves and Fishes Farm is on the corner of Red Bank and York Road. It is a white house with green shutters – the kitchen is in the garage (doesn’t everyone have a kitchen in the garage?)

1810 York Road
Dover, PA 17315

Event Flyer

February 15

February 15

Outdoor imageToday I walked up the lane behind our house and climbed three stone steps placed by our neighbors to easily reach a walking path. When I left the house, the thermometer read 59 degrees. While I walked, great patches of blue among the clouds opened. The sunlight warmed my face and body to the point I unzipped the light jacket I had worn.

Now, as I sit at my desk, clouds have started to roll in, dimming the sunlight. Still, I think the hackberry, maple and sycamore trees behind the house, bare as they are, must be relishing this light and warmth. Perhaps the buds at the tip of each branch might swell just infinitesimally with hope.

February is taking pity on us, I believe, offering up a taste of spring, reminding us that even though cold and snowy days may come, days like this will follow, sooner or later.

This day filled me with joy. My yoga teacher tells me that this stage of life – you know the wise woman and man stage – is about joy, doing the things that bring us joy. It has taken me a long time to embrace this notion without feeling guilty. But more and more I find moments that offer me this gift.

Frequently birds are involved. Like the morning a flock – yes – an entire flock of bluebirds landed in the front yard to eat suet. And, another morning when a pileated woodpecker landed on the suet feeder to eat breakfast. Usually, like the bird examples, it is something simple that evokes that feeling of joy for me. Simple things like teaching my wise women yoga class; making a salad that looks beautiful as well as tasting delicious; having tea with my husband and cats (they don’t drink tea) as we sit in front of a fire in our wood stove. AND, being able to get up in the morning to do my yoga practice.

Doing my practice over many years has set me up to be open to the moments in which I find joy. Yoga practice is time set apart on a regular basis to develop attention and focus, to see myself, my priorities, and relationships more clearly, and to grow in my spiritual life. My yoga practice inspires me to enter my daily activities with greater awareness, care, patience, and joy.

Perhaps we are given winter here in the north just to remind us to pay attention and to relish spring.

A Season of Change

In seasons of deep transformation, silence will be your greatest guide.”
      …Shauna Niequist in Present Over Perfect

Change of Season imageWe clearly see the physical transformation of living things around us in the fall. Deciduous trees are among the most visible of autumn’s shapeshifters. Their cloaks of green transform to yellow or orange or red or burgundys and russets. And when the trees are ready, sensing the shortening hours of light and feeling the cooler temperatures, the transfer of water to each leaf and food from the leaves ceases. The trees surrender their leaves to the earth.

We notice too a change in the air. Coolness descends in the late afternoon and lingers into the next morning. Squirrels work diligently to fill their larders for winter. The insect voices so characteristic of hot August evenings diminish. The evening is quieter here along the Conodoguinet now.

I, too, find myself thinking I am in a time of transition. Over the years I have seen how my yoga practices have helped me to open to risk and change. I tried new things: teaching a new class and workshops as well as letting go of classes; taking on the study of Vedic Chant; attending church; trying a different strategy to deal with anxiety and depression; deciding I needed to live more completely in sync with my values. For all of this, yoga and the support of my teacher have given me guidance and courage.

Now, I feel again in a place of change, hoping to be more fully present in my relationships, to deepen my learning and teaching of yoga, to work on what I can do to live in harmony with Mother Earth, and to find joy in living each day. Focusing on these priorities requires paring back some activities and maintaining more white space on my calendar. Simply, but not simple, is the need to give myself more space. Like the trees in this fall season, I have to let go of some things to nourish other things, including myself and those closest to me.

What will sustain me in this time of transformation will be my yoga practice, my communities of support, and the quiet in which I can hear the leanings of the spirit.

I wonder how many others of you are feeling the same draw to transition in your lives. If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to email or call me. You may find, as I did, that this is a journey that needs a community of support.

Autumn Notes

Path

Each year as we make the transition from the warmth and bright sun of summer to the waning light of autumn, I feel changes in my system that require changes in my yoga practice, diet, and lifestyle.

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of life, gives us a non-Western lens through which we might understand the effects of the seasons. We are told in the teachings of ayurveda that each person has a “birth constitution,” which consists of a unique arrangement of three different doshas or energies. The vata dosha controls body movement and is concerned with the nervous system. The kapha dosha controls body stability and lubrication and is concerned with the tissues and wastes of the body. Pitta dosha involves digestion and concerns the body’s endocrine and enzymatic systems. Our particular arrangement of these energies, along with our diet and lifestyle, affects how we respond to life and seasonal changes.

Each season also has a dominant dosha, with its own characteristics. Autumn’s dosha is vata. As vata is about the energy of movement, fall is characterized by the movement of air and wind, which has the effect of drying things. Wind, too, stirs things up. Think about the reds, yellows, oranges of autumn leaves, that eventually dry and brown and roil and rustle in an October wind.

We are affected by autumn’s energies and may be vulnerable to imbalances in our own systems. When vata is out of balance within us, we may experience creaky joints, constipation, dry eyes, hair, and nails, difficulty sleeping, nervousness, forgetfulness, and mental distractedness. If we are in a vata stage of life, mid-50s and up, we are even more vulnerable to such an imbalance, particularly in autumn.

If you find yourself feeling out of sorts with some of the symptoms of autumn’s vata dosha, you can explore some of suggestions that follow:

  • Allow your approach to yoga practice to be attentive and meditative. Keep your focus on cultivating a feeling of groundedness, staying one or two breaths in your postures.
  • Choose activities that support a calm mind and heart.
  • Include soups and stews in your diet, using vegetables and fruits from our local bountiful harvests.
  • Hydrate your body by drinking water throughout the day.
  • Add good oils to your diet, olive and sunflower, as the weather cools, and in winter some sesame or fish oil.
  • Oil your skin before you take a warm shower, using sunflower oil or sunflower mixed with sesame.

Much information exists on the subject of the ayurvedic constitution, and you also can work with an ayurvedic practitioner to learn about your birth constitution. But we all can begin by paying attention to how we are affected by the seasons, our diets, and our lifestyle choices. Then, we can adopt strategies to maintain a sense of comfort, stability, and balance.

If you would like to have me teach you a personal yoga practice you can do at home, as well as receive diet, and lifestyle recommendations to address your needs this autumn, you can reach me at 717-645-0067 or eterryyoga@gmail.com to schedule an appointment.

Celebrating Autumn’s Abundance

Deer in a field

It was September 23rd, and we were driving home from Cooperstown. A disc played Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” as we followed the two-lane road weaving over hills where trees had just been kissed by touches of red.

Just a day earlier we had ridden our bikes on the trails and roads of Glimmerglass State Park. We had stopped to look out over Otsego Lake, at stretches of water really glimmering in the sunlight. The sun felt warm on our arms and faces, yet the air moved with a touch of coolness. Hardly any other people occupied the park, just a few walkers, a few in cars, and a group of men replacing the roof on the beach facility. Swimmers had disappeared.

Two deer, still sporting white spots, grazed casually, not far from the road where we rode our bikes. I stopped to take pictures, and the one closest to the road lifted her head and turned to look directly at me, ears alert. After holding her statue-like pose for what seemed like minutes, she lowered her head and went back to leisurely nibble the greens.

Over the days of our travels I reflected on abundance: the abundance of beauty around me; the abundance of the fall harvests coming in; the abundance of tomatoes I knew awaited us in our garden when we arrived home.

Fall, 2016 has had its challenges, we might all agree, but to me it still feels full of gifts: the bounty of the land, the visual beauty of the forests even as the trees prepare to husband their resources by surrendering their leaves, and the rich gifts of community and friendship.

Fall Foliage Yoga is a celebration of this abundance in our lives. We come together to practice yoga under the great maple at Loaves and Fishes Farms, serenaded by the rustling of trees and vines and plants and often by chickens, goats and other animals on the farm. Our lunch together following yoga is a celebration of fall harvest time as we come together and enjoy delicious healthful foods.

I hope you will join us on Saturday, October 22nd at Loaves and Fishes Farms, 1810 York Road, Dover, PA 17315. Yoga is 10:00 – 11:30 am, and will be held inside in the event of rain. A light lunch and great conversation follow, with the opportunity to visit and tour the farm. A free will offering will be accepted to support the work of the farm.

For more information about the farm, visit the Loaves and Fishes Farms Facebook page.

For more information about Fall Foliage Yoga or to reserve a spot, contact me, Elizabeth Terry, at eterryyoga@gmail.com or call me at 717-645-0067.

The Energies of Autumn

2016-0909 blog image

It may be 90 degrees, but hints of fall are everywhere. In my backyard the rose of sharon’s flowers have all browned and curled while her leaves are yellowing. Some bright pink blossoms still grace the crepe myrtle, but they are more like highlights among the fading, drying flowers. And, this morning as I looked out the window, I noticed leaves, newly surrendered to the breeze, riding air currents to the ground.

While the calendar tells us the fall equinox is still two weeks away, autumn has already announced herself.

In our Wise Women class we talk about the shifts we notice in how our bodies feel, our minds function, and even how our emotions fluctuate. It is part of cultivating awareness so we notice changes within us that may require attention to avoid discomfort or illness in the future. We know choices we make in our lives or lifestyle may cause us problems. If we eat or drink too much too often, we may feel dull or depleted and gain excess weight. If we have several nights with only four or five hours sleep, we may feel tired and out of sorts. In addition to noticing the effects of our nutritional and lifestyle choices, we must also be attentive to the weather and the seasons and the roles they may play in how we feel.

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of life, tells us that each person has a “birth constitution,” which consists of a unique arrangement of three different doshas or energies. The vata dosha controls body movement and is concerned with the nervous system. The kapha dosha controls body stability and lubrication and is concerned with the tissues and wastes of the body. Pitta dosha involves digestion and concerns the body’s endocrine and enzymatic systems. Our particular arrangement of these energies affects how we respond to life and seasonal changes.

Each season also has a dominant dosha, with its own characteristics. Autumn’s dosha is vata. As vata is about the energy of movement, fall is characterized by the movement of air, wind, which has the effect of drying things. Wind, too, stirs things up. Think about the reds, yellows, oranges of autumn leaves, that eventually dry and brown and roil and rustle in an October wind.

We are affected by autumn’s energies and may even experience imbalances in our own systems. When vata is out of balance within us, we may experience creaky joints, constipation, dry eyes, hair, and nails, difficulty sleeping, nervousness, forgetfulness, and mental distractedness. If we are in a vata stage of life, mid-50s and up, we are even more vulnerable to such an imbalance, particularly in autumn.

If you find yourself feeling out of sorts with some of the symptoms of autumn’s vata dosha, you can explore some of suggestions that follow.

  • Allow your approach to yoga practice to be attentive and meditative. Keep your focus on cultivating a feeling of groundedness, staying one or two breaths in your postures.
  • Choose activities that support a calm mind and heart.
  • Include soups and stews in your diet, using vegetables and fruits from our local bountiful harvests.
  • Hydrate your body by drinking water throughout the day.
  • Add good oils to your diet, olive and sunflower, as the weather cools, and in winter some sesame or fish oil.
  • Oil your skin before you take a warm shower, using sunflower oil or sunflower mixed with sesame.

Much information exists on the subject of the ayurvedic constitution, and you also can work with an ayurvedic practitioner to learn about your birth constitution. But we all can begin by paying attention to how we are affected by the seasons and our lifestyle choices and adopt strategies to maintain a sense of comfort, stability, and balance.