August is a month of mixed energies — lamenting the end of summer while feeling the excitement of a new school year in Charlote — leading to the emergence of what is known as “Leo energy,” which is associated with creativity and inspiration.
However, due to experiencing heavy personal losses in the first half of the year, including the death of a parent and the divorce of close friends, finding solace in the silence has been critical for my mental health.
This is where yin yoga and restorative practices come into play, offering a sense of healing and rejuvenation to counterbalance the oppressive heat and humidity.
In the heart of Plaza Midwood lies a unique destination called the Big Love Yoga Barn (BLYB). This community center (yes, it really is a barn) provides diverse, creative, intuitive yoga classes, events and workshops.
Their mission is to empower individuals both on and off the yoga mat, making the benefits of yoga and mindfulness accessible to everyone and fostering a greater sense of health, happiness and well-being within the community.
I recently visited BLYB and discovered its magic after attending a mindful Monday date night experience that included dinner at Pure Pizza followed by yoga and a sound bath in the verdant barn behind the restaurant.
The yoga session began with a brief meditation followed by an intense yoga flow in a circular mandala pattern, which involves moving halfway or entirely around the yoga mat.
After the invigorating flow, participants found themselves lying on their backs on their mats, eagerly anticipating the sound bath finale while staring at the trippy, cylindrical art hanging from the ceiling.
The yoga teacher used a collection of singing bowls to create gentle waves of vibrations that enveloped the participants in a therapeutic “bath” of sound.
Beyond its soothing sounds, the sound bath experience induces deep relaxation, reduces stress and promotes overall well-being. It is believed that the sounds and vibrations of the singing bowls can influence the body’s energy centers, known as chakras, and help balance the flow of energy throughout the body.
Following the sweat-filled practice, I took a soak in an Epsom salt bath later that evening and slept like a baby!
Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep, is another yin yoga practice I’ve explored through the summer months. A recent two-hour workshop at Khali Yoga Center provided a much-needed opportunity for deep physical, mental and emotional relaxation while maintaining awareness.
The room of practitioners were instructed to lie down in a comfortable position. The Yoga Nidra experience involves body awareness, breath awareness, and guided visualization. The workshop facilitator allowed us to journal afterward as a bonus.
Together we achieved physical relaxation by consciously releasing tension in specific body parts, starting at the crown of the head down to each toe. The breath awareness phase helps calm the mind and connect with the body’s natural rhythm, while guided visualization fosters mental and emotional relaxation.
The practice allows individuals to let go of thoughts, emotions and distractions, entering a state of profound stillness and rejuvenation. During my meditation, I felt like I was floating above my problems, genuinely able to disconnect.
Afterward, my journaling takeaways included approaching each interaction from a place of love, acting with intention at work and in relationships, and being kind to myself when I fall off my health and wellness routine (like when I drink a whole bottle of red wine in one night).
Leo energy is also prideful, just in time for Charlotte’s vibrant Pride Festival and Parade. Celebrating over 20 years of Charlotte Pride and more than 40 years of LGBTQ+ Pride legacy in the Queen City, the event has evolved from humble beginnings to attracting a record-breaking 275,000 attendees recently.
Just in time for my birthday, this year’s festival takes place on Aug. 19-20 in Uptown. It’s the best birthday party a gal could ask for — a rainbow and glitter-festooned celebration of love, diversity, and acceptance.
The event’s highlight is the Charlotte Pride Parade. The vibrant parade weaves through the streets of Uptown, showcasing the community’s resilience, love, and pride.
As the LGBTQ+ community continues triumphantly, the Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade is a powerful testament to the progress and acceptance achieved over the years, inviting everyone to join the celebration (and wish me a happy birthday, of course).
In a year filled with experiences of loss, personal growth and self-discovery, three prominent entities — the Big Love Yoga Barn, Khali Yoga Center, and the Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade — embody the values of acceptance, love and community that I seek.
These serve as powerful reminders of the strength that comes from unity and authenticity. As I embrace the significant Leo energy of the season, I am determined to move boldly into the second half of the year, akin to a fearless lioness.
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