I remember the first time I walked into Serenity, a yoga and meditation center. It was a Thursday evening, and I went to sign up for an upcoming course. I happened to walk in right at the end of a prenatal yoga class by Amal, my yoga teacher. I saw women chatting and packing up their mats, hugged Amal, and met the owner Frances and asked her the story behind how she decided to open this center.
I had no plans that Thursday, but those fifteen minutes felt like a little outing that lifted my spirits. Sometime after, I went back for a new candlelit yoga class with Amal. There, in the room, lights dim and mats laid side by side, Amal began by asking us not only to allow ourselves permission to modify the yoga practice to suit our needs, but also to allow others the freedom to do the same without judgement. I instantly felt relieved.
She created a field of acceptance, a safe space for us to explore and challenge ourselves, and led by example. She asked us to breathe, move, stretch, play and let go in a flow that took us all the way to a cool down and finally lying down in silence. But my favorite part of the classes is sitting up right at the end, for a moment of gratitude for one another, where I smile with pleasant surprise at how the space we’ve created together in just an hour has brought me to calm, joy and peace. All the more with candlelight.
“Our 24/7 culture has phased out the night. In fact, we treat it like failed daylight. I have noticed that when all the lights are on, people talk about what they are doing – their outer lives. In candlelight or firelight, people start talking about how they are feeling… and we have time to reflect on our lives.” – Jeannette Winterson