A Healing Space

A Healing Space by Aimee Bourget - May's Resident Yoga Teacher

To me, leading a yoga practice is all about helping to create a healing space. A space in which people can connect with and love all over their physical, emotional and spiritual bodies. It’s a space wherein we develop mindfulness that helps us become more aware of our needs. It’s a space wherein we develop compassion that helps us actively love ourselves better.

Yoga is a space we create for introspection. For questions.

What are the needs of my body? Where am I tight, where am I open? Where am I tense, where am I relaxed? What am I holding onto that I can let go of to create more space in my life?

How can I love myself best today? As I am now, in this moment? Without wanting myself to be something different... without wanting myself to get someplace different... All I have is now... so how can I best love myself for who I am and where I am right now?

Perhaps the emphasis I place on love and healing is because I started practicing yoga during a particularly hard year in university wherein I was diagnosed with PTSD. I explain the symptoms of my PTSD to people like this: my body just stopped being a safe place. And because it was no longer a safe place, I felt like I was floating behind my body like a balloon on a string — waiting for things to be safe enough so I could float back down. That spring, the only time I felt safe enough to drift back down into my body was during my yoga practice. There was something special about being on my mat. About embracing that seventy-five minute practice as a time for me to love myself, all the while surrounded by people who were all actively working towards healing themselves, in one way or another.

The support I felt was incredible. My mat, my practice, my healing, but all of us moving and breathing together.

I think I became addicted to the environment of a yoga studio long before I became addicted to the asanas, the meditation or the pranayama. I’d never experienced that kind of environment before. Wherein I was encouraged to play my edge, but without the stress of competition. Just the encouragement to play whatever my edge happened to be that day.

For this reason, I think I’m really going to mourn leaving The Yoga Forest in the middle of June. The space Hayley and Jeremy have worked so hard to create is one of the most healing environments I’ve experienced in my life as a traveler thus far. Tucked away in the hillside, it takes stamina and persistence to reach — a strategic placement that ensures that if you come to The Yoga Forest, you really want to be here. And the people it attracts seem to contribute their energy towards this space — like everyone wants to leave a beautiful footprint on something already so beautiful.

Like attracts like.

It’s a place where you can look around and see the footprints and fingerprints of the myriad of guests The Yoga Forest has shared its beauty with for the past year and a half. From the blender bicycles we use to grind peanuts, coffee beans and corn, to the new green energy sources currently being created by a volunteer Norwegian engineer.

People come here and they don’t want to leave. It’s not the hostel environment wherein guests come to sleep and then leave in the morning to spend the rest of the day gallivanting about, absorbing the sights. It’s a place people come to sleep. And then to participate in meditation and yoga. And then to enjoy a nutritious breakfast. And then to enjoy each other’s company, some music around the dining room table, or to just sit in a hammock with a good book.

The people are healing. The food is healing. The yoga and meditation are healing. We come together in this place from all over the world — Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan, Israel, Central America, the US and Canada (guests I’ve come in contact with so far). We each come here on our personal journeys. Some of us want to learn more about Permaculture, some of us want to deepen our yoga practice, but all of us want healing. Healing for the earth and healing for our bodies. And we’re all here together. Eating together, creating music together, practicing yoga together, building community together, healing together.

Aimee Bourget