Nestled amongst the red rock cliffs lies the Northern Arizona town of Sedona. Known for its energy vortexes, scattered throughout the mesas, Sedona has long attracted artisans and mystics. Charming little galleries, natural food restaurants, and yoga shalas abound. There are dozens of wellness centers, energy healers and all manner of bodyworkers. Whether or not you believe in the pull of these alleged magnetic centers, there is something magical and resonant about the place.
Weary from a long day of harvesting asphalt on I – 10, I found my way to Seven Centers Yoga Arts. Though primarily a center for Yoga Teacher Training, the school also offers a wide array of drop-in classes. I decided upon a 75-minute session entitled “Therapeutic Hatha with Yoga Nidra”. There were about a dozen students, many of whom were currently doing their 200-hour training, scattered about the large central practice hall. As day turned to night and the sky became streaked with pinks and purples, the instructor guided us through a slow, mindful practice. I appreciated the fact that she was an older woman, without an archetypal yoga body, and a soothing cadence. The emphasis was on breath and presence, rather than performance and posture. I did not, however, appreciate the padded floor. While it may have been ideal for sitting still during extended periods of meditation, it was really difficult to do standing balance postures. Or was it the vortex, pulling me out of alignment?
The thirty minute Yoga Nidra that followed was intended to bring us into a deeply meditative and restful state. So restful in fact, that I promptly fell asleep.
I awoke feeling lighter and more limber and left with a silent smile of contentment on my sleepy face.
The following morning, after a good night’s rest in the comfort of my camper, I wandered off into the wilds. There are a plethora of minimally challenging hiking trails scattered about which begin at the edge of town (www.sedonahikingtrails.com). The airport loop, which began at the end of my street and followed the contour of the mesa for approx 3.5 miles, seemed like a perfect little jaunt.
Confident of my capabilities, I bounded along, irrespective of my lack of cell phone signal and with only a meager supply of water (no trekking poles and zip off trousers for me, oh NO!).
At a critical junction, I must have taken a wrong turn and found myself steadily climbing uphill, passing under a giant power line, and then arriving at the airport itself. From the top, one is rewarded with spectacular vistas. On the north side, the entirety of town is laid at one’s feet like something out of Madurodam, with the 7000-foot summit of Wilson Mountain on the far side of the valley. To the south, vast expanses of mesa mingle with endless desert skies. It was hard to be angry at the poorly labeled signs that led me astray (or was it the vortex again!?!?!) given the stunning views.
Five sweaty but satisfying miles later, I was back in town and seeking sustenance. I stumbled into The Gathering Place (1835 W State Rte 89A Ste 5, Sedona, AZ 86336). It’s a free community center sponsored by a local church that offers coffee, conversation, and an occasional coconut cream pie. I had been hoping for something more nourishing, but the man behind the counter was so lovely and the space so welcoming, I decided a cuppa joe would suffice.
Historically I would have been put off by a ‘dry’ bar preaching the word of god, but these days I think of GOD as a placeholder. Like two bookends, surrounding a space into which one throws all the things that one can not readily explain yet seemingly exist. And when god sends you free coffee, you drink it.
Later that night, I made my way to Awakenings, a small one-room studio tucked into a side street off the main thoroughfare. Awakenings seems quintessentially Sedona, with its emphasis on healing arts and awakening the spiritual potential within. The walls of the studio are festooned with thangkas and prayer flags and there’s an ever-present aroma of botanicals in the air. The Yin class I attended was accompanied by a soundtrack of Native American flutes and chanting. It was deeply soothing. After an hour of long-held postures boosted by an abundance of props, my fascia felt much freer. My spirit soared like a raptor on a desert thermal. And my belly was HUNGRY!
As luck would have it, Vino Sedona, part wine retail market part tasting room/gastropub was located across the street (2575 W. State Route 89A Sedona, AZ 86336). At a small table tucked amongst the wine racks, I sampled some of Arizona’s contributions to viticulture. I was particularly pleased with the Merkin Vineyards Chupacabra Red Blend (perhaps it was the name?) which paired really well with the multiculti greek naan pizza I devoured (crispy, cheesy and garlicky nom nom!). Body and spirit sated, I wandered out into the moonlit desert night to gaze up at the night sky.
On my final day in Sedona, I encountered van troubles. On the eve of Thanksgiving and the brink of another 450 mile driving day, it was clear that my day would be spent attending to mechanics. Thankfully there was an auto parts store located nearby. While the VERY accommodating salespeople assessed the situation, I wandered out into the neighboring shopping plaza and found myself at the door of Hot Yoga and its adjacent boutique Yoga Blessings.
As I meandered amongst the gorgeous offerings, including locally produced clothing and jewelry, I had a chance to speak with the proprietress, Wendy. I explained that I was doing studio reviews for an online yoga journal as I was making my way around the country in my van, that I had mechanical problems and was unfortunately not going to be able to check out the offerings next door. To which she promptly replied, “just shut up and yoga!”
Sedona Hot Yoga and Yoga Blessings
162 Coffee Pot Dr Ste A and B, Sedona AZ 86336
(928) 282 – 1279
www. sedonayogablessings.com www.sedonahotyoga.com
$18 drop-in/ $15 with local id
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