YOGA LIKE A LOCAL
by Amber Burke
COME, TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES, take some deep breaths, sigh them out, move a little, wiggle.
Stand tall in Mountain, squat into Horseman’s pose, lift your arms into Cactus. Sink into Gecko, alight into Crow. Lie down for poses whose names you don’t know, poses that remind you of fallen logs, lakes, skies. Stretch out for a siesta in Savasana. Hope you don’t have to move too soon … out of this pose or anywhere.
Maybe you’re already beginning to compose letters to friends and family, telling them you’re here to stay, you are never going back, never leaving Taos. Why would you, if you’re a yogi?
Taos is a yoga town, and practicing yoga here is another way of participating in the life of this place, of experiencing the effects of its altitude, its artistry, its come-as-you-are camaraderie.
You could fit in a class after a morning hike, before a night of margaritas and music; you could turn an entire visit into an impromptu yoga retreat, lining up days of nearly back-to-back classes. The yoga community here is diverse. Teachers from a wide range of lineages have moved here from far-flung states, and students span generations and levels. Visitors often drop in for classes, adding to the mix, some of them trying yoga for the very first time in their lives, as if in Taos they can be different from how they are elsewhere – as if here, more things are possible, allowed, easy.
While classes are varied, they often share a degree of mellowness. Cosmopolitan yogis used to fast-paced, acrobatic classes may find some of ours to be comparatively less intense. Perhaps this is a practical matter, grown from the expectation that there’s bound to be a motley crew in attendance, but I think there’s another reason, too. Life here, while not without its unique stresses, is not as relentless as life in big cities; we may have less agitation to dispel. Or the blaze of the afternoon sun may do some of the hard work for us, its hot impress lowering our guards, softening our shells, opening us back up.
If yoga is in part the reawakening of our attention and our senses in Taos, it’s easy to practice outside of class, too: inhaling the smell of sage after the rain, gazing at the dropped curtain of sunlight folding itself into the creases of mountains or the glow of the moon landing on the stones and on the grass like frost, and, in the morning, before the oceanic afternoon winds kick up, listening to the mesa, each shrub home to invisible, loud birds, it seems like the earth is singing. Being here, breathing here, being present to the world around us here, becomes its own yoga.
Amber Burke often contributes to yogainternational.com. She coordinates Holistic Health and Healing Arts at UNM-Taos, where she also anchors the 200-hour yoga teacher training. Connect with her on Facebook at amberburkeyoga.
Yoga in and around Taos
Many yoga studios are offering virtual classes. Visit their websites for details.