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I have been told that I have a tendency toward over-exuberance. (Alas.) So when I say that the first Yoga in the Garden event hosted by LifeArt Studio was a spectacular success, some of my friends will say, “Well of course, what else is Lezlie going to say?” But people, I’m telling you it was an amazing experience.
Yoga in the Garden started as an idea in the mind of Marylou Gantner. She knows me well, knows my love of gardening, my love of yoga, my deep passion to share both with others. And so one Sunday morning she called me and said, “I have an idea for you: you should teach yoga in the gardens of Orlando.” My heart leapt. Yes, I thought, yoga in the beautiful residential gardens of Orlando. A brilliant idea. And we decided right then that her garden would be the first of a series of yoga events we would produce.
We made an intention. We held this intention out to spirit. We let go of any control or desire for outcome. And look what happened. The experience that arose yesterday in Marylou’s stunningly beautiful garden was more fulfilling that I had hoped. The day was perfect, as only Florida in October can be: sun-drenched; a gentle breeze; a clear, bright blue sky; and the garden manicured to look like something right out of a slick garden magazine. I know Marylou expended many precious resources (time, money, energy) preparing her unusual outdoor space for us. I have never seen it more lovely. Lush and varied in color, design, texture—it delights all of the senses. Throughout this long, sloping garden, she has nestled numerous intriguing vignettes. Everywhere the eye lands there is something to attract the attention, pique curiosity, and delight the mind.
I am so indebted to her for so graciously offering her garden and her home to our yogis. They soaked up the beauty as I knew they would, taking it in with all of their senses. They moved slowly and mindfully to the mesmerizing sounds of the wind in the bamboo, birds singing, trees rustling, the water lapping the shoreline of the lake.
Helping create this unique outdoor experience were Linda VonWolfersdorf, who co-taught the yoga class with me, and Kristen Dolphy, food artist extraordinaire of Black Dog Café and Catering. After walking meditation and asana practice, Kristen gave us a lesson in concocting healthy, nutritious, and yummy smoothies. On the menu today were a cacao protein detox elixir and a cranberry bliss smoothie. Absolutely delicious!
When it was all over, we had a hard time leaving, each of us wanting more time to walk through the garden and take in the myriad details of this artful space. Yoga in the Garden— the brilliant idea from my dear friend Marylou Gantner. She was a nudge to my spirit, a tiny, delicate finger pointing me in new direction. This is how creativity works. It’s combinatorial play, collaboration among kindred spirits. A friend knows you and loves you so well that she sees something you can do that you didn’t know you could do. She makes a suggestion and you run with it. But you don’t run alone, or at least I didn’t on this event. Sixteen of us did it together: me, Marylou, Linda, Kristen, and the twelve yogis who came to experience mind, body, and breath in a dramatically new way. I hold deep gratitude for each one of you.
On the Friday before the event, I was wondering what thoughts I could leave our participants with at the end of the Yoga in the Garden experience. I found the perfect idea in the words of Maria Popova, curator of Brain Pickings, a website where she curates major themes running through her readings of the best of the best in literature, psychology, creativity, philosophy, and the history of ideas. Early that morning, to commemorate nine years of producing the Brain Pickings website, she sent out a list called 9 Learnings from 9 Years of Brain Pickings. And here I found the perfect concluding comment for my participants:
Seek out what magnifies your spirit. . . .Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often. Use them not only as a remedy once spiritual malaise has already infected your vitality but as a vaccine administered while you are healthy to protect your radiance.
After walking meditation, gratitude practice, breath work (pranayama), and asana (posture) practice, we sat together in a state of bliss—spacious, clear sighted, open-hearted. And we considered Popova’s question: what magnifies our spirit? We all agreed, there was no more perfect way to conclude our perfect morning of yoga and meditation than committing ourselves (over and over again) to “protecting our radiance” by always seeking that which “magnifies our spirit.”
I hope you have found your own beautiful and nourishing ways to protect your radiance and to magnify your spirit. And I hope you’ll be able to join us for the next Yoga in the Garden event when we once again use nature as a tool to take us deeper into mind, body, and spirit.