Big Island, Ontario - The silence is deafening. My mind is lost for the time I'm engulfed in such absolute quiet. I let it weigh heavily on my body, focusing only on the current moment and forgetting that a time outside of now exists.
Briefly opening my eyes, I see my friend Kelly, whose idea it was to come here to SahaYoga. She's in an utter state of peace, as are the half-dozen other people spread comfortably around the 1,700-square-foot studio.
Natural light floods the room, the air smells clean, with an exotic dab of incense, and I can see the Bay of Quinte in the distance through the large windows. A lonely sailboat passes. It is still, calm, and although I've rarely dabbled in yoga before, a natural euphoria has settled over me along with a feeling of being, well, stoned.
After a heavy summer, with stresses jealously consuming me from all angles, Kelly suggested an affordable weekend away at SahaYoga. As we drove the two hours east to Big Island, 15 minutes north of Picton, the skies began to grow bigger and the vistas more immense, helping me to recognize that as big as Toronto may seem, it really is just a dot on the map of a grand province.
We were graciously greeted by Mike and Linda Cooper, a young couple who moved from the city to build the 16-acre retreat in a landscape of rolling hills amidst a forest of red cedars. The fall colours are intense. Cows, horses and goats watch us with seeming mindfulness.
The inside of the house is painted in warm reds suggesting far-off Latin America. During a candlelit vegetarian meal that includes fresh garden herbs, Linda talks lovingly of her travels to Brazil, Chile and Argentina, places that have inspired SahaYoga, and tells stories that leave me dreaming of the South.
Our first yoga class starts with what Linda and the others staying here (including a mother and daughter, two teachers and another couple from Ottawa, whom we have kept in touch with) refer to as sivasana, the corpse pose, designed to relax and centre the individual.
There are ample mats, pillows and blankets, and all we have to do is lie down and breathe. After a few moments, we start stretching, breathing and moving with ease and strength. After starting with a few sitting postures, we get to our feet as Linda gently talks us into form. And as we move into postures, she helps us to breathe and sink further into them. Things are definitely feeling good, and the class ends all too soon, leaving me eager for the next class.
Later that evening, after dinner, we put on warm jackets and go for a short stroll down the road to the water's edge. I haven't seen the luminous night sky in Toronto for quite some time, and never before with this intensity.
One of our sessions the next day is a chakra class. Linda explains that chakras are the subtle parts of an energy wheel that reside in different parts of our bodies. Each posture is accompanied by a sound and a vision of a particular colour that seems to bring good-hearted humour and giggles.
We then pull into our own spaces, and as we rotate into sivasana, a wave of emotion rises over me. Tears that must have been welling up inside for years begin to flow. A feeling I can only describe as a pure and unjudgmental love fills the room. I feel safe and unembarrassed, but stunned and confused.
Linda explains that these emotions can surface if we release a blockage of energy within our bodies. She says to just let what happens happen.