When we speak of yoga we often speak about the “journey”. These days that can mean traveling anywhere on the planet to do yoga at a retreat or it can mean that wherever you go, there you are.
As I explored Kundalini Yoga as an emotional and spiritual healing I was directed and led to other forms of yoga for the physical integration they offered to complement the Kundalini.
Dharma Mittra was a big influence, as well as Ashtanga yoga, that took my body through physical challenges very different than the physical practice in Kundalini. After four years of studying these forms, I continued with them and added a weekly Iyengar practice with Genny Kapuler. who broadened my understanding of anatomy.
Having broken my back skydiving at age 22 and been hit by a cab on my bicycle in New York City when I was 41 I have developed imbalances in my anatomy, or patterns as they say in Iyengar, that will not ever repair. These bring humility to my practice as I am limited in some ways but still can do more with my body than when I started, even doing some practices considered advanced.
In 1997 when I began the Sewall House Yoga Retreat in my great grandfathers historic home in northern Maine there were hardly any yoga retreats; yoga was just becoming popular in the way it has become today. I had been teaching Kundalini for twelve years. When my great grandfather’s historic home was to be sold I decided to see if I could purchase it to keep it in the family. My great grandfather had been Theodore Roosevelt’s nature guide; in this home TR was healed of asthma from his hikes in the woods and up Mount Katahdin. A lifelong friendship was forged as well, an unlikely one, nevertheless a strong one. As a retreat guest from Ohio said to me this week, who is a surgical nurse who has lost one hundred pounds and become a yoga teacher on the side after only two years of practice, close friends can come from situations you never expected. For her it is yoga, as she commented that the owners of her studio have become close friends and someone she would not have met otherwise. She experienced firsts at Sewall House- coming to Maine for the first time, kayaking on the lake and climbing a mountain!..and made more new friends.
Like our Yoga and life journeys the journey of buying Sewall House had situations and uncertainties that I had no idea how to face until I had to. It also had immense rewards, like seeing people release and heal. One woman who was facing retirement soon and had become ill with bronchitis tending her ailing parents spent 3 weeks at the retreat, finally releasing tears of healing in savasana toward the end of her stay. Another guest who had been born with uneven legs, teased by her family when she would fall, came to the retreat thinking she could only do sitting poses. By the end of her stay she was doing tree, returning home to sign up for a teacher training.
There are many stories that have happened as a result of taking the leap of faith to be in the home I love, where TR stayed and my family heritage lies, even the request to become yet another teacher training school. In 2009 we offered our first tiny teacher training, another unique format that we offer in the plethora of larger retreats that not all people are comfortable with. Like my great grandparents we welcome everyone into our home and retreat as an extension of the family that we all are- as we say in yoga, one. We offered the first training because we were asked to. Now we have done eight and our next one will be September 7- 28, 2015, with no more than 5 participants, lots of interactive study and chances to student teach (each trainer does 3 classes).
With all the wonderful places around the world that offer nature, as we do in pristine northern Maine, the world of yoga retreats has become a candy store with many choices. This week when I took a guest down the lake five miles by our little fishing boat to do yoga on a rock island (think On Golden Pond) she commented on how there were no other boats (we saw one fishing boat!), only the abounding nature, which included a deer sighting on the lake and a few weeks back 2 moose and a deer, as well as red winged blackbirds, eagles and heron.
We also have amazing hikes, last week tackling the majestic Mount Katahdin.the highest peak in Maine that TR climbed with my great grandfather William Sewall. We supported each other and faced ourselves, back to the journey of life that yoga and nature and healing offers us.
“Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards.” Kierkegard
Donna Amrita Davidge owns and operate www.sewallhouse.com in Island Falls Maine since 1997 from Maine to October. Retreats are ongoing and can be booked based on your schedule and availability. She has been teaching for 30 years in New York City a variety of forms of yoga at PURE Yoga, Golden Bridge and others places around town. 888-235-2395 Sewall House has been featured in much press and chosen top ten worldwide two years in a row online by Gayot.
Writing from the Kundalini Soul is offered for one weekend each summer, This season the workshop is July 30-Aug 2.