By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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It's a gathering like no other at the Madrona MindBody Institute, and it truly is for the whole of the community, said Jen Bates, host and mixer of the music.
Bates and her fellow local yoga instructors will lead nine sets of 12 sun salutations — flowing sets of poses — from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Friday at Madrona, which is on the Fort Worden State Park campus at 200 Battery Way.
Admission to the gathering, which will flow into a 9 p.m. potluck and a 10 p.m. “Soulstice” dance, is a suggested $15 donation to Dove House, which provides advocacy services for domestic violence survivors.
“We'll be in the beautiful Madrona space with tons of room, candles and wicked music,” Bates promised.
She's assembled a sun salutations soundtrack featuring the sweet and soulful, from Nat King Cole's “L-O-V-E” to Pete Townshend's “Let My Love Open the Door” to Prince's “Kiss.”
This is all about the winter solstice and “welcoming the sun back into your life” after Friday, the longest night of the year.
Perhaps the most important message here, Bates said, is that no one has to do all 108 sun salutations.
Yoga teacher Heather Sky will lead the first set and show ways to modify the poses to one's needs and desires.
Through the evening, “it's OK to stop,” Bates said.
The gathering “is also a beautiful thing to come and watch. There will be 108 sun salutations,” not necessarily all done by all comers, with “everybody breathing together.”
For Bates and her fellow teachers, yoga's benefits are in learning concentration and awareness — listening to one's body — much more than about stretching and physical strength.
The number 108 is chosen, Bates added, because it is a significant one across spiritual traditions.
Variety of instructors
For the 2012 gathering, she's brought together instructors from many Port Townsend yoga studios.
They include Colleen Swantner, who has taught here for 35 years, and Nöle Giulini, who will guide students through a 15- to 20-minute savasana, the deep-relaxation closing to a yoga practice.
The potluck meal afterward is a bring-your-own-beverage and dinner party, Bates noted. The Soulstice dance following will be led by Aletia Alvarez, who also hosts a 9 a.m. “Body Prayer” and 10:30 a.m. “Soulfull Sunday” dance Sunday in the Madrona ballroom.
To find out more about these and other classes offered through the week, visit www.MadronaMindBody.com, and for further information about Friday's gathering, phone 360-379-1710.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.