Pleased to bring you this blog post from Jolene McGill. Jolene has a student at Unity Yoga in Vancouver when I first met her. She went became a volunteer, then an employee handling studio affairs. Jo then completed a teacher training and began to teach at Unity Yoga. She has become a great friend over the years and joined us in Jamaica as my assistant. All retreat leaders I believe then an extra set of hands, ears, eyes and support to create a powerful environment for change. So grateful for Jolene's presence with us as both student and coordinator, and of course the alter and yoga space honouring each morning. Give thanks Jolene for all that you offer to the world. Here is her first blog from the first few days of our 14 day training and retreat. Keep your eyes peeled for the images and video on its way!
Great Spirit, Sacred Mother
in a kind and gentle way, I bow to thee
offering you my sincere and humble gratitude
for your abundant nature and unconditional love.
As the sun kisses my cheeks it reminds me that a new day has come again. A new day sure to be filled with growth, knowledge and love filled conversation here at Bromley Estates in Jamaica.
Every morning I make the journey down a simple path dotted with old stone steps that are probably as old as the estate I now find myself standing on. It leads me ever so gracefully to our open air yoga studio where I am drawn to the magnificent locally carved Buddha, adorned in Gold that lives at the center of our practice space.
It is my pleasure to spend the first 15minutes of my day wandering the property gathering many flowers and ferns from around the land to bless our divine Buddha. I then allow myself to create the space in my life for pray and stillness. Honoring the great spirit within all creation as I bow humbly to its feet.
Giving thanks for the opportunity to be here on this sacred land we call Jamaica. To be a guest in the hills of the beautiful Parish of St. Ann. Birth place of Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley and Burning Spear. To be surrounded not only by a blissful and deliciously deep daily yoga practice but also by a very rich and deep culture with a not so blissful and delicious history.
Every morning we meet at 8:30 on the yoga platform and flow together to awaken our bodies and reunite them with our mind and spirit. Yesterday we started with yin guided by the Lovely Miss. Hoogenboom.
At this retreat we are also studying Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory and learning about 1 of the 12 meridians each day. So each class, both the morning flow and yin, are structured around the meridian we learnt that day. We Stretch, twist and compress the meridian of the day in order to create healthy flow within our bodies.
Morning class is then followed by a delicious breakfast that is provided by the staff here at Bromley, a beautiful old estate that has been in the family of Jonna, the owner, for over 5 generations.
Then it is off to our TCM lecture that runs for about 1 ½ - 2 hrs each day. As I mentioned earlier we discuss and learn about one of the 12 main meridians of the body. Yesterday we discovered and discussed the spleen meridian. Whose element is the earth and the emotion tied to it is thought, or overthought. It was fascinating to learn about how the health of our mind or thoughts can affect the part of body the spleen extends to, our muscles. Makes sense once you start to think of it though. They always say we store our issues in our tissues in yin class and as our teacher pointed out today we can see the truth in this. He said that when we overthink or worry it can be filed away like a librarian files away a book in to the muscle tissues of our body. So tightness or knots with our body may be related to our mind and the way we think on a daily basis. Simply put, our body is a reflection of our thoughts.
Then comes time for lunch, which again is a divine spread as if it was created for the Gods themselves. It is always vegan, vibrant and full of life. Such a gift to be able to enjoy the local and organic foods sourced from nearby farmers. Fresh and traditional Jamaican dishes partnered with dishes from home.
Our afternoons are either filled with free time or an adventure. For example yesterday we journeyed to Mahoe Falls, a beautiful and sacred part of the country. A cascading limestone waterfall that is dotted with little pockets of spring water for basking in or small fall spots for you to shower in. You are able to climb up the falls from the bottom and enjoy every moment of nature’s divine creation as you do so. Barefoot and connecting to the Earth as the natural spring water nourishes and tickles your feet, embracing fully the great spirit of the water. Simply stunning!
To finish up the day I was blessed with the opportunity to guide everyone through a flow class inspired by our spleen. It was filled with Lots of opening and compressing of the anterior thigh and frontal body.
One of the interesting qualities associated with the spleen that we learned yesterday was that when the Qi is balanced and expressive our awareness of the possibilities of change awakens. I hope that through our continued practice of yoga and our awareness of the power of thought in relation to our physical body grows, we can begin to tune into all the possibilities for change within and in time we will begin to see them reflect in our world and reality. For when we live and breathe the change we wish to see in our every moment. The world will become the change we wish to see.
Blessings for now