Peacock Tree Yoga students are always encouraged (nay, forced!) to don a cape, some fangs or a pair of pointy ears for classes that fall on Halloween, and this year is no exception. But more than anything, we want our students to try on a few asana ‘costumes’, at home and in our classes – with the intention to experience the stories, the symbols and the qualities associated with each.
A Halloween yoga practice
If you aren’t sure what qualities are associated with different poses, you can go with intuition, your experience, and your imagination. What does a boat pose mean to you – the ability to go on new journeys, and greet change and with an adventurous heart? The ability to stay afloat during difficult times? What does plank pose mean to you – the qualities of a strong foundation: steadiness, the ability to withstand pressure, the readiness to be used in the service of a great plan?
We can take the theme of Halloween to the very end of our yoga practice. In Savasana (which, aptly, translates as corpse pose), take a moment to focus on people from the past who you admire – it can renew your sense of purpose in life and give your motivation a tremendous boost. This, after all, is what Halloween started out as.
In memory of…
Traditionally, the eve before All Saints Day – an active one in the Spirit Realm – involved dressing up in period clothes of ancestors whose admirable characteristics remained in their descendants’ memories, long after their physical bodies dissolved into the earth.
The ancient Celts believed the border between this world and the spirit world became thin on Samhain, allowing ‘ghosts’ (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family’s ancestors were honoured and invited home, while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks celebrating the lives of the more favourable ones.
Good or bad, it’s up to you
By using the theme of Halloween to steer our yoga practice, we are able to retain a sense of what Halloween was traditionally about. By all means, go to a party, drink ‘blood’ punch and do the Time Warp (again). But make time, too, to bring the special quality of this time of year, and its inherent traditions, to your mat.
It is true that the celebrations of All Hallows Eve, or as we call it now, Halloween, has become quite different from its origins and can be the subject of debate and controversy. But by applying the teachings of yoga – to strive to reach a place in our minds and our hearts that causes us to radiate peace, happiness, and every kind of positive energy – the traditions of Halloween can help bring about good physical and emotional health, which affects everyone and everything around us.
Imagination in life is our most powerful tool.
Halloween waits . . . (a poem about Halloween by Lilley Harvey)
The night before November 5th, I spied a wretched Halloween,
Half fall, half flight, her step was swift
Her time was echoes, thin as wind
then midnight chimed
and brilliant, vermillion, Fire grinned.
“I waited,” she smiled.
They kissed with lips aflame and then she died.