Renew, reconnect and re-center at this inspiring yoga/meditation retreat held at Dai Bosatsu Zendo, a Zen monastery high in the Catskills. Take the opportunity to regain your own natural rhythm and reconnect with yourself and with nature. Immerse yourself in the Rinzai Zen traditionwith two daily yoga sessions, practice zazen meditation, and pranayama. An introduction to zen meditation will be offered for those wish to attend. Refresh your spirit by taking a leisurely walk around the lake, or hike through 1,400 acres of unspoiled forest.
Enjoy three delicious vegetarian meals, plus snacks, tea and coffee throughout the day. Please note: Meals on Saturday (all day) and Sunday morning will be eaten in silence in the Zen tradition.
Arrive Friday by 4pm for our opening Gentle Flow/ Restorative class and optional meditation. Depart Sunday 2pm and return home renewed, refreshed and revitalized. Cost: $350pp includes all yoga/meditation, shared accommodations for 2 nights and all meals *Single Room add $50 *Single/Double Room w/private bath add $75pp (limited availabilty)
Steady, comfortable seat. -Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2.46.
I feel better. I practiced today. Yoga and zazen, inseparable for me. I have been struggling. Ready to run one way or another. This is my story.
I came to the practice of yoga asana because I could not sit still. I so wanted to sit still.
Moving, flowing, sweating was what I craved. A vigorous yoga practice kept me sane. It was the only way for me to connect to life, and feel alive. As the physical practice began to awaken the tissues in my body, I felt my form like never before. The memories of the past, the experience of living. I could now breath a little deeper. The postures strengthened my core, brought me to my limit, and took some of the edge off. I was working hard, finding breath, being challenged. It was exciting. The layers of tension began to peel away. Thanks to yoga, my body was beginning to open, slowly, sometimes painfully, and so was my mind. I was being invited to move not just physically, but spiritually.
But I was quite resistant to this deeper transformation, still holding on tight. After a sweaty vinyasa class I could at least lie still in svasana— Corpse Pose. Mind restless, uneasy, but physically, externally, my body was steady. This was progress.
Eventually my insightful, passionate, yoga teacher invited me out of that vigorous asana class. I was having so much fun, but she could see it on my face and feel in my very tense, strong body that I was not at all at peace. She sensed that my core was strong enough to proceed. The asana practice had done its job; it had prepared me to move towards stillness. With these words, “Slow down, open up,” my fierce, loving teacher sent me along the path towards what I really needed from the practice of yoga. My thoughts: What?!!! How does she know what I need? Who gets invited out of a yoga class? Still moving, restless, off I went. Searching, struggling, resisting the challenge. I was scared. I realized that I could not sit still, because it hurt. My hips were really tight. My shoulders felt like granite and my trapezius muscles were steel cables.
I came to the practice of zazen because I could not sit still. I so wanted to sit still. My beautiful loving, meditation teacher appeared. The instruction was simple. Just sit, upright. Comfortable and steady. Face the wall? I was not sure about this. There were so many questions, lots of anger and fear. If I faced the wall, I would have to face myself.
Count the breath, she instructed. I am a good student. I can do this, I repeated to myself. But I felt afraid. No matter what, I decided, I wouldn't move. I could be steady, I was strong. I could grip and hold on.
Breath after breath, I sat steady and still. Mostly I would just fall asleep. That was easy. I had been conditioned to suppress, to repress emotion, essentially to fake it through life. Yoga gave me my strong core and my upright spine, so I could pretend–for a while. Looking inside to find that comfortable, steady, seat became more and more of a challenge. My compassionate, kind teacher encouraged me to just keep sitting. I became aware that if I awakened I would find unresolved sorrow, pain, sadness, grief, suffering and I was not ready for all that—to be awake in the experience of being human. I thought that by sitting still I would find ease and comfort but the obstacles were all present. My understanding was not “right”. Just like the physical practice of yoga, I needed to peel away the layers to find the truth. I needed to heal one breath at a time.
To be spiritually awakened is to embrace this human experience as it unfolds. The joy, the sorrow. The challenge to grow and expand is endless, this is what I adore about the practice of yoga, this is what I adore about the practice of zazen. If you show up. If you do the work, you move slowly, sometimes painfully, along the path. There is no sitting still, but now gratefully there are moments of profound comfort.
Yoga and zazen, inseparable for me.
Article appeared on The Zen Studies Society March 2014 Newsletter
Evalena Leedy is the Studio Director and co-owner of Yoga Sole in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. She is a passionate yoga practitioner and teacher who believes yoga is for everyone. Four years ago she began to sit zazen and to offer a weekly free meditation with Genno Linda King a long-time student from the ZSS. The combination of the two practices complimented and encouraged each other naturally. These two practices had such a beneficial result that were encouraged to begin a zen and yoga weekend retreat at DBZ held in spring and fall.