Back to School

by Virginia Macali, JD, MS

It’s the time of year when school supplies are on sale, the evenings are cooler and I have that back-to-school impulse. This year, I actually get to go back to school. I’m excited about starting in the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program at Yoga on High in September.

This program was founded by Donna Karan to treat the whole person in the healthcare system—not just the disease. It addresses symptoms of pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation, and exhaustion.  It uses the core principles of yoga such as gentle in-bed movements, restorative poses, breath awareness and body scanning.  Reiki, a light touch that balances energy, and essential oil therapy are also used.

As I embark on this journey, I’m not buying notebooks and number two pencils. I’m preparing by setting up a special room in my home dedicated to my yoga practice. While I do have a specific space for practice, having a whole room seemed even better for this new beginning.

I started with a room that had been an occasional guest room, but mostly, it held the ironing board, luggage, art supplies, old lamps and odds and ends.  I spent last weekend clearing the space of everything that wasn’t needed.  Afterward, there was a futon couch, a bookshelf, a chair, and two small end tables.  In a slow and mindful way, I dusted the furniture and swept the shiny wood floor. I opened the windows and let fresh air infuse the space.

Then, I started adding. I created an altar on one of the end tables. I placed a few items on the altar including a silvery sculpture of a person in lotus position, a pyramid-shaped meditation timer, and an orchid.

The pink yoga mat went right in the center of the room. On the side I placed yoga bolsters (one faded green round, one purple flat), blocks of various sizes (black, blue, purple), a purple strap, a few blankets, and a mediation cushion.   I placed books for the course and essential oils on the bookshelf.

A cleansing smudge of incense and the room is ready, clean, quiet, and still.  I dedicate the space to practice, depth, community, and service.  Urban Zen, I’m ready to go back to school.

Virginia is enrolled in the UZIT program that begins in Columbus, Ohio, in September 2013.  She has practiced hatha yoga for over twenty years.  She is now drawn to Urban Zen, restorative yoga and IRest Yoga Nidra—what she calls the horizontal yogas.  She founded High Point Transitions where she is a Certified Integral Coach.  She coaches people as they navigate challenging times, whether that is a health situation, leadership challenge, or the vicissitudes of daily living.  She is dedicated to helping people advance their inner and outer lives in a balanced way by taking on new practices, bolstering support, and accessing resources. Virginia offers silent meditation retreats to deepen awareness and cultivate presence.  Her own journey of meeting challenges with resource, grace, and dignity informs her work.  She has been a student in the Rihwan School (Diamond Approach) for 13 years.