This weekend we returned to our wonderful woodland venue for another gorgeous yoga event this time inspired by the Goddess Tara.
Throughout a 2 hour vinyasa practice meditation, mantra, pranayama and asana threaded together strands of inspiration and understanding as 11 incredible yogis took a deeply divine dive into elements of compassion and protection, evoked by the goddess.
One of the most popular deities Tara has existed over centuries in most cultures in many varied forms. The two most popular are Green Tara and White Tara. A Tibetan myth reveals how Tara returns, time and time again to the world to save all beings from suffering and lead them towards enlightenment.
Born from the tears of a Buddhist monk - Tara's birth story begins when Avolakiteshvara first looked out on the world and witnessed only suffering - it was for this that he wept. Born from a tear falling from his right eye, Green Tara is the fierce or ugra form ready to leap to our defence when called upon. Her seated pose is one of ease yet she oscillates with a vibrating energy poised and entirely ready for action. She protects from 8 specific dangers and the reciting of her 3-fold mantra, Om Tara, Tuttare, Ture Soha, unveils the ways in which she saves.
White Tara, born from a tear falling from the monk's left eye, is the gentler form of the goddess. She complements her sisters message of wisdom, truth and perseverance that enables us to overcome our troubles and fears and obstacles that bind us to misunderstanding. As the compassionate mother who lifts us up and carries us over the ocean of samsara (birth, life and rebirth) she is there to support us in times of trouble and to enlighten our understanding of an inner divine nature which is beyond the physical boundary of the body, as she lovingly guides us back to shore.
Our practice unfurled with a gentle opening of hamstrings, quads and hips and filtered into the release of restrictive binds which ensnare the heart. Flowing through rounds of creative kramic sequences linked to the breath and punctuated with counter poses and moments of quiet reset, Tara's quintessence guided us towards fearless and graceful balance. In virabhadrasana 3, garuda arms inspired take off until a thermal carried from the heart radated arms like wings offering the compassion to facilitate and sustain flight.
Tara's signature vitarka mudra is known as the three jewels as it references the Buddha mind; Dharma speech and Sangha body, all of which offer ultimate refuge. Through variations of a standing marichyasana (flamingo pose) along with the twice born expression of bird of paradise - svarga dwidasana, we found joy and lightness in playful release drawing on the elixor of compassion and forgiveness as our own journey transformed into one of acceptance in the present moment -rather than elation at the arrival of a goal.
The grace of the goddess is the catalytic force that reveals the powers hidden within. In any yogic journey, evoking the Devi via her myth, metaphor and symbolism provides a cosmic dunk into ourselves. As we allow the qualities she offers to infuse, unfold and expand energetic shifts and changes are created through deeper layers of body and mind potentially guiding us towards greater understanding of ourselves.
Tara is fascinating, not least because of her many forms but also due to the plethora of historical strands which surround her and the many derivations of her name. Tara means star and she is seen as the illuminating entity that guided ancient travellers safely across the seas and which can lead us out of mundane, everyday suffering. Often referred to as the one who carries us across the ocean of suffering, White Tara's origination can be gleaned from the root word, 'tri' which means to cross. Her green version is associated with the earth, in particular the forest and the wind. In one story she appears as a woman clad in leaves to save a woodsman from a lion. In fact we hear her name too in the ancient word for earth - terra.
Returning to the earth, our heart and shoulder opening back bending asana sequences allowed time to contemplate the ways in which we suffer; particularly when we hold onto anger, frustration or jealousy or become mired in the swirl of self doubt. As one of the 8 fears, doubt is an obstacle Green Tara is said to help us overcome particularly when we use her mantra to summon the strength required to banish its taught grip that keeps us stuck.
So it was that having climbed a newly strimmed inclined path to reach our woodland venue we were reminded that Tara is also the name of a hill in Ireland and resonates in the word Tor; a mound of earth possessing magical properties.
The noonday sun swelled above us, pouring forth its warming radiance through the canopy of green above while the lull of a gentle wind and Tara's sweet song expressed through her longer mantra swirled into the mesmerising tones of chimes carrying us off into deep and generous relaxation.
A huge thank you to the venue owners who have created and work so hard to maintain and develop this truly special haven. This space is uniquely aligned with nature and they are both just the most amazing hosts for which I am truly grateful to be allowed to offer an authentic yoga experience. Gratitude e as always to the incredible sangha of yogis who joined Yoga Avenue for this woodland experience.
Would you like to experience yoga in the woods? Future events open to all levels are available to book in August, September and October can be found by clicking on the link below: