Monday, July 2, 2012

Chester Calling

Actually it was yoga calling. A few weeks ago I enjoyed another Iyengar workshop in what has become one of my favourite places to visit. Chester is a charming 250 year-old ocean-side village on the south shore of Nova Scotia. As usual I stayed at the appropriately-named Windjammer Motel

‘Cultivating Maturity in your Yoga Practice’ the workshop was led by Marlene Mawhinney, a senior Iyengar teacher, the founder and director of Yoga Centre Toronto. Marlene has spent many months over the years studying in India with the Iyengars and brings a similar stringent precision, and detail to her instructions, combined with light-hearted humour.
 Leigh Milne is a dedicated yoga teacher who frequently hosts these inspiring workshops. I  joined about 40 other teachers and senior students for an intense, demanding, invigorating, intense and fulfilling weekend. The Iyengar style uses props such as belts, blocks, blankets and bolsters. Marlene demonstrated and made individual adjustments on our bodies. “There's a little bit of each of us in all of us", she said. Which is why demonstrations benefit everyone, and add to the sangha or community we create whenever we come together to practice.

Much of what Marlene said resonated with me. In particular her thoughts on prana or breath. “One Breath at a Time” she kept reminding us. So true off the may as well as in our practice .“Find the breath that leads you into the posture, that keep you there and deepens, and the breath that leads you out” was another teaching gift I received. Some posture work will be integrated into my own practice, then in coming sessions shared with progressive students. Others will be shared with all levels so they benefit.

It’s always good to combine study with time to relax and make new discoveries.  Though most of my days in Chester were spent on the yoga mat I made the most of a few free hours on Saturday afternoon to explore more widely than on previous visits.

Taking time to walk around the village centre I had an interesting talk with Angie DeMont owner of Hibiscus Boutique, a store filled with eye-catching fashions and jewellery with a different appeal. I have more than sufficient clothes and jewellery but love to talk to people who also enjoy them. A chance remark about my Ganesha pendant and soon Angie was telling me about her visit to India and her interest in Yoga and Ayurveda. The connection is always there.

A drive west along Highway 3 brought me to Blue Shutters Antiques and a conversation with Bobby Young who co-owns the shop with Peter Fitch. Some years ago I sold antiques in Ontario and Britain and am still drawn to things that speak to me of days past.

Also on Highway 3 I dropped into Linens For Life, where Elaine LeBlanc offers a lovely selection of fine linen clothes and bedding. The section showcasing the bed linens is restful space with sun slipping through two skylights; more like a hotel room. Alongside the store is a quaint tea room. A keen gardener Elaine takes pride in the store’s surroundings.

Turning east on the highway I spent a lot of time enjoying Oceanview Garden Centre, one of the most comprehensive and delightful  garden centres  I have visited. Filled with colourful glass, decorative gifts, candles, shawls, teas and jams, some of which I purchased, it also offers everything a gardener could wish for to create a beautiful outdoor sanctuary.

Outside the selection of statuary, metal ‘flowers’, water garden accessories and colourful bird houses is quite enchanting.

The further along the coast to Chester Basin where I spent time sitting by the water, reading, making notes from the workshop, and dreaming some dreams. I collected a couple of beach stones to bring back for our garden before it was time to head back to Chester for the evening.

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