Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Spiral Retreat 2015!

"Spiral Down to the Center"
Saturday January 3rd, 2015
9am-8 pm
Join Lydia, Anjali, Devon, and Fearn for our annual New Year's retreat in Underhill, VT!  Spend a contemplative and nourishing day at beautiful Dharma Door Retreat Center enjoying yoga, sacred art-making, ritual, delicious meals, and time spent cozy by the woodstove! Under the peaceful gaze of Mount Mansfield remember the gifts of the year past, illuminate intentions for the new year, and rest and restore in the present moment.
Sign up at www.anjalibudeski.com. Early bird special ends December 10th.
Here's the schedule for the whole delicious day:
9am-930am:: guest arrival/ tea&snack
9:30am-10:45am::  yoga asana with lydia
10:45am:: tea break
11am-12:15pm:: reflections on the past year with fearn
(enter into silence for lunch & break)
12:30pm-1:30pm:: luscious lunch 
1:30pm-3pm:: sacred silent space
3pm-4:15pm:: restorative yoga with anjali
4:15pm tea break
4:30pm-5:45pm:: paper altars with devon
5:45pm-6:45pm::delectable dinner
6:45pm-7:45pm:: spiral to the center ritual
7:45pm-8:15pm:: new years cheers & goodbye

We hope to see you there!  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Year's Retreat!

"Spiral Down to the Center"
Saturday January 4th, 2014
9am-8 pm
Join Lydia, Devon, and Fearn for our annual New Year's retreat in Underhill, VT!  Spend a contemplative and nourishing day at beautiful Dharma Door Retreat Center enjoying yoga, sacred art-making, ritual, delicious meals, and time spent cozy by the woodstove! Under the peaceful gaze of Mount Mansfield remember the gifts of the year past, illuminate intentions for the new year, and rest and restore in the present moment.

Schedule for the Day
9am~ Guests arrive
~ Welcoming Circle with tea and snacks
~ Yoga with Lydia
~ Reflections on the year Past with Fearn
~ Lunch
~Sacred Silence and free time
~ Dreaming in the New (sacred art project) with Devon
~ Dinner
~ Spiral Ritual
8pm~ Closing & goodbyes

Price Just Lowered!!
$125 after Dec. 15th.  Includes lunch, dinner, snacks, and tea.
Reservations and payments for this event will go through Fearn's website.  If you can't follow this link, please just contact me directly.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Fertile Darkness

We are approaching the day between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, called in the Celtic tradition Samhain (pronounced "sow-in"), and variously known as All Souls' Day, All Saints' Day, All Hallow's Eve, or Halloween.  In the Mexican tradition Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, and in the Hindu tradition this year Diwali, the Festival of Lights, falls on November 3rd (the new moon).
As we watch the last leaves fall from the branches we can sense that it is a time of endings, but as we plant the garlic and other bulbs in the ground we know that, too, it is a new beginning.  The ancient Celts considered Samhain to be the first day of the new year just as the planting of a seed in the dark of the earth marks the beginning of the plant's life.  That time spent in the darkness is sacred and much transpires before the seedling pokes its green head up into the sunlight.  
This is a perfect time of year to nourish our dream seeds, to cultivate introspection and contemplation. Yoga and meditation can be supportive practices on your journey into the fertile darkness of this time of year.  Visit my website to learn about new meditation courses, yoga classes, and retreats: www.saprema-yoga.com.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dancing with Plants

This is the perfect time of year to take your yoga outside.  Sit under a flowering elderberry tree to meditate, dance with the rain-wet wild roses, practice your asana under the shady hemlocks, breathe with the morning glories as they open into the sunlight.

Plant Spirit Yoga invites us to move with and be moved by the plants.  Breathing and dancing with the essence of the plant reminds us that we are part of the body of the earth, that we are not separate, that we are whole.  Below are some of the plants in my garden with whom I have been moving and breathing lately!

I am honored to currently be featured in the summer issue of "Yoga International" sharing the teachings of Plant Spirit Yoga.  I hope you will join me for upcoming workshops and retreats focused on deepening our connection to the Green World through movement, breath, and embodiment.  Please visit www.saprema-yoga.com to learn more about current and upcoming offerings.

Saprema (with Love)~ Lydia

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Meditations on the Divine Feminine

I am excited to announce another round of “The Heart of the Goddess: Deepening our Yoga with Meditation and Mythology.”  We’re just finishing the first series this week and it has been an incredibly rich experience.  I feel so grateful for the wonderful women who joined me on this adventure, bringing their passion, diverse experience, potent questions, and beautiful open-heartedness to deepen our learning!

Through the discipline of Tantric meditation we become disciples of our own hearts, devoted to the sacred power, grace, wisdom, and beauty that flows through each one of us and through all of Nature.  Through meditation, mythology, mudra, and mantra we come to understand the energies of the various Goddesses as ways of understanding, expressing, and embodying our own sacred gifts, learning how to more authentically and generously share them with the world.

The word tantra not only means “the teachings,” or “the practices,” but also can be rendered as “loom,” or “warp” (as in the warp and weft in weaving).  The Sanskrit root tan in the word tantra gives us the English words attention, intention, extend, and tender among others.

And so it is that we tenderly turn our attention to our intention: to extend our understanding of the Goddess – She whose power, grace, and presence are woven throughout the entire web of life – through these teachings and practices known as Tantra.

May this study of meditation and of the sacred stories and teachings help us to consciously remember ourselves back into the dance, back into the web, with ever-increasing delight, wisdom, compassion, and courage.  May we seek not to transcend, but to be embodied with ever greater awareness, skill, and peaceful presence.  May we take up the invitation of yoga and be fully engaged in life, responsible for our actions and choices, curious, kind, and respectful.  May we remember that we are part of everything, and that everything we do and don’t do affects everything else.  May we hold all life as sacred. 

Jai Ma!  

"The Heart of the Goddess: Meditation and Mythology", a nine week series, will be held on Wednesdays from 10-11:30am at the Shambhala Center in Montpelier, VT beginning May 1st.  I also will be teaching another nine week series called "The Heart of Meditation: Tantric Philosophy and Contemplation" on Fridays from 10-11:30am starting May 3rd.   Please see more at www.saprema-yoga.com

Monday, January 7, 2013

Plant Spirit Yoga Year 2013

Stir, Sprout, Unfurl, Bloom, Ripen, Root, Nourish, and Rest.

Join me, Lydia Russell-McDade, on the journey through the seasons at beautiful Dharma Door Retreat Center in Underhill, VT.  We'll gather close to or on the Celtic quarter and cross-quarter days: Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnassah, Mabon, Samhain, and Yule, to delve deeply into teachings of the plants through movement, meditation, myth, and magic!

This course is for:
~ Practitioners of yoga and meditation who crave a deeper connection to nature and the seasons, and are interested in herbalism, plant spirit medicine, and earth-based spirituality
~ Herbalists, gardeners, and plant-lovers who are interested in yoga and meditation
~ Pagans and those from other earth-honoring traditions, curious to learn more about practices to enhance their connection to and understanding of the Wheel of the Year through somatic experiences
~ Those interested in the intersections of nature, myth, movement, and spirituality

Each session will include a Plant Spirit Yoga class, a Plant Spirit Meditation session, and a lesson in magic, myth, or movement that brings us deeper into the season and our selves.  In warmer months there will be time spent outside working one-on-one with the plants.  On the Summer and Winter Solstices there will be an over-night which will include ritual and celebration.

The yoga asana portion of the course will be at an intermediate level and not geared towards beginners.  However, no prior experience in meditation, herbalism, ritual, or Plant Spirit Medicine is necessary.

Some topics other than yoga, meditation, and Plant Spirit Medicine that will be woven into the year include: Authentic Movement (an improvisational and contemplative dance form), the basics of Tantric philosophy and its ties to Celtic spirituality, the creation and holding of sacred space, introduction to the directions and elements in ritual space, the chakras (energy centers in the body) and plants, plant poetry writing and reading, Hindu and Celtic mythology and archetypes, The Celtic Wheel of the Year and it's correspondences, Hindu and Celtic deities and their botanical and seasonal correspondences, flower essences, and the basics of simple herbal medicine with recipes.

We will meet Friday February 1st at Dharma Door from 5:30-7pm to celebrate Imbolc with Plant Spirit Yoga and to get a sample of what the Plant Spirit Yoga year will be like.  You can sign up for this first evening for $20 and then decide whether you'd like to commit to the next seven sessions.  If you can't attend this first class, but would like to get a flavor of what's to come, this same Imbolc Plant Spirit Yoga workshop will be offered in Montpelier (February 2nd) and Hardwick (at "The Open Space  1/9, 3-5pm).  Contact me to find out more details and to sign-up.

The first official session of the Plant Spirit Yoga Year will be Sunday March 31st, followed by Saturday May 11th, June 22nd (overnight), August 3rd, September 21st, November 2nd, and December 21st (overnight).  After the Imbolc sessions in February, no more drop-ins are allowed.  All these sessions will take place at Dharma Door in Underhill.

Participants will be asked to bring their own lunch and snacks.  Each day (after Imbolc) will go from 10am 'til 4pm (except for the two overnights which will end Sunday morning.)  The cost is $600 for the seven sessions (including the 2 overnights).  The Imbolc Birch sessions cost $20 and are not included in the full price.  Payment plans are available for the series; just ask!

I hope you will join us on this magical journey through the Wheel of the Year!  Be in touch if you have questions or would like to sign up: lydia.dragonfly@gmail.com.  Learn more at www.saprema-yoga.com

Saprema (with Love), Lydia

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Life and Death~ Samhain and the Fox

Driving home, I see a fox out hunting in the full moon's light.  Bushy-tailed and quick, she races through the shadows, on the trail of something fast and warm to fill her belly as the darkness of late autumn deepens. The little mice run, scattering like the seeds they seek in the tall grass.

Later, in the withering garden, I harvest the leeks.  Fiercely rooted, they do not unearth easily.  I pull with both hands and at last they give up to the air, soil flying in all directions as I stumble back under the momentum of their release.  They will be soup soon.  Their demise is my nourishment.

At this time of year, called "Samhain" or "Summer's End" in the Celtic tradition, farmers would traditionally cull their flocks and herds, slaughtering the animals needed for food and sustenance.  Livestock who had been fed, watered, and sheltered all year would now help to keep the people alive through the long, cold winter.

Nowadays, most of us can buy our meat wrapped in plastic and never have to face a still-flapping, headless chicken.  But the death of that bird happens anyway; we just generally don't acknowledge it, let alone honor it.  

At what cost do we get to avoid the reality and necessity of death in our every-day lives?  At what cost do we get to pretend to be separate from the great cycles of Nature?  Does this false sense of separation result in even greater destruction?  (I think of factory farms and chemical-fueled monocultures; wars over land, water, and resources; drought and famine in lands abused by industrial agriculture....)

In yoga, we learn to practice ahimsa, or "non-harming."  But if, in our efforts to harm none, we choose, for example, to eat fake meat made from GMO soybeans grown with chemicals, wrapped in plastic, and shipped from far-away on gas-guzzling trucks, how is that less violent than choosing to eat a free-range chicken organically raised with care by our neighbor down the road?  A certain amount of violence is needed to sustain life.  To pretend otherwise necessitates enabling violence that is hidden from one's line of vision.  But, being removed from the deaths needed to give life absolves no one of his or her actual responsibility.  Frighteningly, though, it does seem to give rise to far more and far greater violence than anyone could wreak on her or his own.

It's the time of year to be humbled by the remembrance that we are all part of the delicate web of life.  What we do and don't do affects all.  Snug in the privilege of our humanity, we rarely find ourselves in the plight of the mouse or chicken (or leek!).  Removed from the web of life by technology and its accompanying arrogance, we forget to honor the thin and tenuous strands by which we are tethered to our own aliveness, let alone the blessing of vitality gifted to us through the deaths of countless numbers of other beings.

Yesterday, a great storm moved across the Northeast.  People lost power; buildings and roads and bridges were destroyed.  Suddenly, for those of us in the projected path of the storm, our mortality was present.  Suddenly, we felt small and helpless as we gathered flashlights and filled jugs of water against darkening skies.

But, for we lucky ones who were not badly affected by the high winds and wild water, it was easy to resume our rhythms and rituals by morning.  Today we drove in our cars, checked our email, and ate food.  How quickly we forget our own vulnerability, our own mortality!  A brief moment of feeling mouse-like, and then, back to being the omnipotent fox (an especially dangerous fox with a credit card, a car, a cell phone, and someone else to kill his mice for him!)

Was it climate change that brought such a terrible storm?  Are unusual weather events like this yet another example of how our disassociation from our actions (fossil fuel consumption, dependence on industry, etc.) yields a violence we cannot even look in the face?  A violence for which we cannot accept responsibility (cannot respond to) because we think we are separate from it?  How can we, like the fox in the field, learn to look unflinchingly at the reality of our own actions and their consequences?  How would this affect the choices we make?

This is the time of year to remember.  At Samhain we pause to give thanks for the precious and tenuous gift of life and for all that dies to let us live.  We pause to be humbled and awed by the power and might of the natural world.  We pause to remember that we are not separate from the cycles of life and death and renewal.  We pause to consider how by consciously and reverently re-weaving ourselves into the web of life with respect and humility, we might actually help to create a human culture less violent, less wasteful, and ultimately more sustainable for all.

Maker of All Things, Even Healings
By Mary Oliver

All night under the pines the fox

moves through the darkness
with a mouthful of teeth
and a reputation for death which it deserves.
In the spicy villages of the mice he is famous,
his nose in the grass
is like an earthquake,
his feet on the path
is a message so absolute
that the mouse, hearing it, makes himself
as small as he can as he sits silent
or, trembling, goes on
hunting among the grasses for the ripe seeds.
Maker of All Things,
including appetite, including stealth,
including the fear that makes
all of us sometime or other,
flee for the sake
of our small and precious lives,
let me abide in your shadow-
let me hold on
to the edge of your robe
as you determine what you must let be lost
and what will be saved.

Straight Talk from Fox 
by Mary Oliver

Listen says fox it is music to run
over the hills to lick
dew from the leaves to nose along
the edges of the ponds to smell the fat
ducks in their bright feathers but
far out, safe in their rafts of
sleep. It is like
music to visit the orchard, to find
the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the
rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child beside such an invention. It is
music to wander the black back roads
outside of town no one awake or wondering
if anything miraculous is ever going to
happen, totally dumb to the fact of ever
moment’s miracle. Don’t think I haven’t
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.