Journal for the spring retreat, 7-day water fast: Day 2

As always, the day began at 4.45am with dawn yoga and meditation. I know that may sound shockingly early :-), but given the way that sleep patterns change during a fast, it actually makes a lot of sense. So often, people have a lot of trouble sleeping while fasting. Getting up before dawn for an hour of gentle stretching and meditation makes it much easier to go back to sleep again afterwards. I love waking up before everyone else, preparing the room with candles, as well as laying a path of candles through the garden, leading from the lower house where we sleep up to the upper house where we practise yoga. It’s a beautiful feeling to wake up in full darkness and follow the path of candles out through the night air and into our cozy common room for yoga. Then, having spent an hour together, we finish practice just as the sun is rising and the world is transformed into a blaze of morning colour.

This morning the rain had long passed, and it was another beautiful day…

In a circle for morning sharing

At morning sharing, everyone was surprised how well they slept after dawn yoga :-). After that, we began the day with shankhaprakshalana: a yogic intestinal wash, which basically consists of drinking a large quantity of saline solution, so that it washes through the entire digestive tract, flushing out any remains of food. This is a good idea at the beginning of any longer fast, because it helps to prevent a build-up of toxins in the intestines and generally reduces the need for enemas later on during the fast. (And it’s true that everyone who participated in the shankhaprakshalana finished the fast without any need for an enema.) Understandably, not everyone felt entirely comfortable doing shankhaprakshalana – and there was certainly no obligation or pressure to take part. Those who preferred to abstain instead went on a dandelion and stinging nettle hunt, to find the ingredients for herbal detox teas. I must admit, this year’s “vintage” of dandelion root tea turned out to be especially delicious!

We spent the afternoon going for a very slow, leisurely 5 kilometre / 3 mile walk, visiting the spring in the village, as well as our own local spring here on the property.

After evening sharing, we had another session of yoga (which is great for helping to move toxins out from both muscle tissue and the lymphatic system) and then a campfire to close the day. It’s really nice to see the way the group is bonding together, and especially the way that those who arrived with anxiety are now letting go and gradually surrendering to the fast.

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