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Listen, Feel, Receive

Recently I had the gift of a weekend at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, with world renowned teachers Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee. The theme of the weekend’s workshop was The Full Scope of Yoga, exploring asana, pranayama and meditation.

The Hot Yoga Spot has partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association for our annual summer solstice yoga fundraiser, “The Longest Day” for the past 3 years, and this year the Alzheimer’s Association had a fundraising contest for yoga studios. We were not aware of this when we registered for this year’s event, and were excited to learn we had the highest fundraising of all yoga studios in New York State. This demonstrates the power of our community to come together in service and for good. As the winning studio, I represented The Hot Yoga Spot at Omega. It truly felt like a full circle moment when Rodney and Colleen walked in the room Friday night, as I used to enjoy yoga with Rodney’s DVDs in the early years of my practice when there were not many classes available, and now I was attending their program as a teacher.

When Rodney and Colleen walked in the practice room Friday night, I will admit I felt a little starstruck. However, they greeted everyone like we were old friends and they engaged with the group and each participant of the class throughout the weekend. They are warm, funny and unassuming, but their knowledge and teaching is deep and powerful. As the workshop title promised, we delved into the full scope of yoga, and equal time was spent on philosophy, asana, pranayama and meditation.

The idyllic setting of Omega in the Hudson Valley surrounded by rolling hills and trees drenched in color provided a perfect backdrop for our program. Our practice room for the weekend was a beautiful studio facing the lake at the edge of the campus, a peaceful setting to “listen, feel and receive” as Rodney reminded us to do.

Throughout the weekend we had the opportunity to practice and refine classical yoga poses, with hand ons assists and adjustments from Colleen and Rodney (which was amazing!), contemplate philosophical concepts, and deepen our knowledge of the body and mechanics of breath. We meditated, and we were restored with nourishing, supportive savasana.

While the entire weekend was rich in lessons, a few pearls of wisdom from Rodney and Colleen really resonated with me.

-Be gentle. Listen, feel, receive; don’t force.

-You don’t have to control the breath, just let the breath settle the mind.

-Receive the breath into a broad back body and a soft front. Most of us are hardening by pushing through. Integrated energy allows us to serve the world.

-Use information for peace.

-If you think yoga is about perfecting a pose, you are missing out. The physical practice is a blessing in itself, but yoga is about learning about yourself.

-You are enough.

When asked by a participant how to choose what to take away from the weekend to implement, Rodney said, "pick one thing. Pick one thing and work with that. Then, take something away to make space for what you’ll add. We can’t just continue to keep adding on."

What do you want to add on? What can you take away?

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have this magical weekend at Omega, and to our amazing community at The Hot Yoga Spot for continuing to support the Longest Day. I look forward to sharing what I learned in my classes.

Listen. Feel. Receive. Namaste’

-Written by Mary Beth Finnerty, instructor at The Hot Yoga Spot in Albany and Clifton Park.