Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Change of Seasons

I taught my last yoga class of the summer this morning on Madeline Island. The fall chill hasn't hit the air yet but as we saluted the sun, I noticed a autumn hue on a few of the leaves overhead. And savasana at the end of class felt a bit more symbolic. It wasn't just the end of our practice this time, but the end of a season.

Change is not always easy to embrace when it means closing our studio doors on Madeline Island. There are no actual doors here, just wide open spaces where our feet root down through sand, our eyes turn up to a canopy of trees, and our drishti ( gaze) is often a sailboat on Lake Superior.

I am not the only island teacher preparing for a shift. Christy, owner of Yoga on the Rock, will be rolling up her mat for the last time tomorrow. I personally know how she feels about leaving but did ask her to share on my blog her thoughts and seasonal goodbyes. Here's Christy's take:

I spend my summer on Madeline Island and winters in the Twin Cities.
When I am asked how teaching on the island is different from my studio classes in the cities, it is difficult to answer. I mean, the sequences are the same, my style stays true, and I use the same playlists and themes. So why is it hard to explain? Fortunately, I recently came across a quote which struck a chord (I love quotes) and it sums up my feelings on our island classes:

"The human spirit needs places where nature has not been re- arranged by the hand of man." - author unknown

Some of my students who have shared their outdoor practice with me have expressed these similar thoughts:

Biking to yoga is the perfect transition to shift from busy mother to calm yogi.

The view of Lake Superior is magnificent. I am mystified by the powers of this body of water. A shift occurs in my soul as I gaze out at the lake while practicing yoga or I'm floating on the water via kayak or SUP. In a supine position my view is the brilliance of green leaves blowing against it's blue sky backdrop.

An opening of senses occurs. Moving through asanas as you feel the breeze and sun on your face. During savasana, you listen to waves lap under the dock luring you into a deeper rest. Sometimes we are blessed with bald eagles soaring over us, sand between out toes, or even a gentle summer rain on our skin.

There is a healthy respect for challenge. Yoga often mimics life and just as challenges arise in our world, they are more apparent in an outdoor practice. Standing on a Stand Up Paddle as a moving yoga mat humbles your practice. Try a new life perspective of the world when you float into down dog on the SUP and quite literally flip your world upside down.

Simply, there is a deeper freedom experienced when the studio walls are stripped away and natural environment surrounds you. I think it parallels the runner or biker who spends summers on open trails only to have to return to a treadmill or stationary bike once winter hits. Something is missing. It may be a great workout but it can't even come close to the outdoor experience.

So, as I wrap up my summer and return to life back home I will longingly look forward to next summer on the island. It is with heart felt gratitude that I thank you for allowing me to guide you through your island yoga experience.

Christy Wandrei is a 500 hour RYT instructor and owner of Yoga on the Rock on Madeline Island.  She teaches yoga classes daily on the island in the summer months and is mom to two fantastic kids and one energetic Vizsla (dog). She teaches with Amy on Madeline Island throughout the summer.  You can find her on Facebook.    


  1. I appreciate your thoughts on the end of our summer yoga practice at Madeline. Both you and Christy have shared your experience with grace and authenticity and I am grateful for it. So, goodbye for now to poolside yoga, savasana on the dock and the comaraderie and friendship we've shared. Until next summer it will be residing in my heart. Sarah

  2. Iwhen I became a runner I knew I was a Yogini!


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