Last night I went to a nearly 15-year old Austin tradition: Full Moon Yoga. Led by registered yoga teacher Charles MacInerney, the free class is held on a scenic overlook above Lake Austin. Last night’s warm, breezy weather was perfect for experiencing yoga outdoors.
When I arrived just before the stated 7pm start time, there were already about 50 people there. The experienced folks not only had their yoga mats but a big picnic-type blanket spread out as well. The group was a wonderfully Austin mix of old and young, from several ethnic backgrounds, and some individuals as well as small groups of friends. By the time the class got started just after 7pm, there were at least 80 people there. Honoring the privacy of a yoga practice, I didn’t photograph the group. It was, however, an impressive and uplifting gathering.
Charles began the class with some seated postures. I breathed deeply, became focused, and enjoyed the feeling of the breeze on my body as I moved. I was conscious of the grasses crunching beneath my body as I shifted weight. I felt the still-warm sun on my face. For the first time in nearly eight years of an on-again, off-again yoga practice, I felt a connection between self, body, spirit, and earth. Within five minutes of the class start, I was hooked.
We transitioned to standing, and Charles encouraged the group to explore the different feeling between stretching the fascia and stretching the muscle. We explored postures where we could compare heaviness and lightness. At all times I felt very much part of the larger group, working in communion, but I never felt inadequate or like others were staring at me. (This is a common fear of friends and clients when I invite them to yoga with me.) I think that being in the open creates an atmosphere of grounding for all involved.
After several standing postures, including my favorite of all the asanas— trikonasa, the triangle pose–we turned our group practice toward the setting sun. With some guidance from Charles, we were encouraged to enter a balance pose of our chosing, focusing on the setting sun as our driisti. I chose natarajasana, Lord of the Dance pose. Standing on one leg with my eyes focused on the soft but powerful sun gave me an intense feeling of strength.
With the sun nearly down, we began a 10-minute meditation. Some people chose to stand and watch the sun drop below the horizon, while others took a more traditional savasana. As I laid on my mat, I could feel the now-cool air blowing over my warm body. The sounds of the evening rose up and filled my head as my body laid heavy on the earth. Before I knew it, I could hear Charles’s voice bringing everyone back together again.
We sat cross-legged in sukhasana and shared namaste with our teacher.
Fortunately for me, the class is held only a mile or so from my home. As I walked down the hill toward my house, I was quite literally guided by the rising full moon. It was spectacular; my photos from my phone do not do it justice.
By the time I got to my front yard, the sky was dark, the moon was bright, and I was happy.
What I will take with me from my experience, other than the confirmation that I much prefer outdoor exercise, is something Charles said that can be applied not just to yoga but to all aspects of life: “If there is no ease, there is dis-ease.”
Good health and great happiness to you.