This past weekend I left my 1,000 page book, American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau, on my desk and escaped into the mountains– an exact-o knife and drafting paper free environment.
I traveled up to Shoshoni Yoga Ashram, which is a spiritual community that practices Shambhava Yoga. As it explains on Shoshoni’s website, “an ashram is a place devoted to spiritual practice; a place where you can go to learn authentic yoga and meditation practices in a safe and inspiring setting. It’s a relatively new concept for America, but an ancient tradition in many other parts of the world.”
Shambhava Yoga is a type of yoga that embraces the asanas (physical poses,) seva (selfless service,) meditation, and other concepts of conscious living. From being at Shoshoni for just 2 days, I could see how devoted the community is to this practice. It is more than just relaxing, strengthening, and stretching, which is what makes this yoga so authentic and special. Shoshoni’s website states this perfectly: “At a time in America when yoga’s popularity outshines its original purpose, Shambhava Yoga stands as a living example of timeless teachings in a present-day practice. Sri Shambhavananda [the founder] inspires students to combine hard work with heart work and use the practice of meditation to rise above, and grow from, the challenges of everyday life.”
The retreat included 3 yoga, 1 restorative yoga, 1 pranayama, and 2 meditation classes. In addition there was the temple service, which included the reading of mantra, meditation, and joyous dance. It was a liberating experience. There was also a time for art, and a time for seva (selfless service.) A group of us made ghee sticks for their Yajna Fire Ceremony. This ceremony was one of my favorite parts of the weekend because of the uniqueness of the experience. Beginning at 5:00am, the ancient yogic practice lasts 2 hours and consists of making offerings into a sacred fire. Offerings are manifested through spoken mantras and rice thrown into the fire. “[Yajna] Fire ceremony purifies emotions, burns up unresolved conflict and worries, and leaves us feeling lighter, free, and more open inside. As we focus on letting go, the fire dissolves our tensions leaving only Vibhuti, or Sacred Ash, behind. The Vibhuti represents the pure essence of our nature, the Inner Self.”
Purifies emotions, burns conflict, leaves us feeling free… it doesn’t get much better than that.
The food at Shoshoni was amazing. All of the meals were vegetarian and made from ingredients grown in their own greenhouses. Pumpkin french toast, Cauliflower and root soup, Tom Kah, and many other flavorful dishes that were fresh and hearty. Coming back to the dining hall after those meals will be hard.
As you have seen in the pictures so far, Shoshoni is located in an absolutely beautiful area. It is nestled up in the mountains at an altitude of nearly 10,000ft. The community is made up of cabins, temples, and buildings, each with their own charm. The area is surrounded with hiking trails and Aspen trees, which makes for a wonderful place to explore.
This weekend was an amazing experience and I hope to make it back up to Shoshoni sometime soon! But for now, I am back to that 1,000 page book, exact-o knives, drafting paper, and dining hall food. Wish me luck.