There aren’t many New York yoga studios that welcome every spirit with open arms and hearts, but there are a few gems who gladly receive new yogis. Laughing Lotus just might be the most friendly studio around, and it has changed the lives of many. It only makes sense that the Laughing Lotus community would gather together once a year to rejoice, open their minds, and share what yoga means to them. After a very crazy hectic week, I was looking forward to winding down and laying low. Most times you know when you need your practice, but other times, when you are so out of balance, you resist it. I went into the Laughing Lotus Supper Summit feeling this way – tired and uninspired. I want to share how nourishing the weekend was for me and the lovely individuals I met along the way. Hopefully you will read this and want to enter this little jewel box, take class (I am always up for it!), and enjoy the divine lotus love.
I arrived at Laughing Lotus on Friday evening. I didn’t know anyone, but I was greeted by such a lovely and friendly individual named Cooper Chou. He invited me to come sit with the group for a seated meditation practice led by the summit’s sponsor, The Lineage Project. Setting intentions was the ideal way to start the weekend – before action, reflection. One of the students from the organization, 17 year old Jasmine Ricks, beautifully and compassionately led us through a meditation. The energy of the room was focused and inviting, and I left the meditation feeling that I would fit right in with the Laughing Lotus ‘family” for the summit weekend.
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking an Ayurveda workshop with Breathe Repeat contributor, and yoga instructor, Ali Cramer. She recently wrote an article for Breathe Repeat called Pitta Practice, which featured tips for staying balanced during the steamy summer months. Ali is lively and engaging and all about helping you find freedom, peace and happiness. Her knowledge of Ayurveda is insane! She opened the discussion speaking on ‘rigorous honesty,’ and asked us to question where we have been, where we are now, and where we can go to work on ourselves. Like Thich Nhat Hanh says, one cannot deny their ancestry. In order for change, one needs to know what they are working with. Two questions in particular stuck with me, especially after reading the article Don’t Eat From the Trash: (1) What is Healthy to you? (2) In yoga we are reminded to be mindful of where we hold back and where we need to push through – how does this relate to our relationship with food?
Following the discussion, we practiced asana to balance out Pitta. Because Pitta is all fire/water, we focused on heart openers (but no extreme back bends!) to keep the heart open while not building too much heat in the body. There was a peak where we were challenged to explore arm balances like bakasana and tittibhasana. We concluded with a restorative pose, supta baddhakonasana, that maintained the same architecture of an open front body. I left in such a dreamy dreamy state – I was rolling on clouds as I gave out our delicious Breathe Repeat chapsticks! What can I say? I’m very much a Kaphic babe, and a Pitta practice can do that to you!
On Sunday I went to Bhakti Body: Love Your Body Temple with Sheri and Anastasia. We opened class with a body-scan meditation, using our hands to guide us from the legs, all the way to the crown of our head. After we went through one cycle, the teachers asked us to come back to a point we had touched and feel the touch of our hands on that significant place in the body. Whether it was a place we craved to be touched, a place that resonated with us, or a place that felt foreign and possibly negative. My body took me back to my legs, and the heat from my hands invited the hardness around the fronts of my thighs to dissolve into the floor underneath me. The workshop was a place for dialogue and discussion, where all of us could be heard, but also hold the space to listen.
All weekend, I looked for Lisa Merkle, (who graciously invited me to represent Breathe Repeat at the summit and share the weekend with the Lotus family), but I could not find her anywhere! Finally, our paths crossed right at the close of the summit. She spoke about her love and respect for the Lotus community and left me understanding why I felt so nurtured all weekend. She said that she was first drawn to the studio because of its feminine nature. I don’t want to boast about the power of feminine energy – sorry to all our male readers -but its true, you just can’t deny a woman’s touch, especially on something she loves. Just like the vibrant, juicy shades of hot pink and orange on the walls, and the omnipresent glitter to sprinkle for inspiration, the studio is ripe, sensual, and definitely a free-spirited goddess! You WILL be welcome here and you WILL grow because there is that strong, loving, female spirit looking after you.