Yoga retreat salutes the sun

August 22, 2014
One of the fun things about working on a newspaper staff are the back stories, the behind-the-scene stories that are vocally tossed around in the office on a hectic post-publishing day.

The back story to the following article was something that Celeste Mallett told me about what one of the women at her yoga retreat said. Celeste had all her students standing on their heads against the wall (or something close to this stance) when Derrick Lundy walked in to snap a photograph of them for the paper.

Now Derrick, even in middle age, has this close to mythical reputation on Salt Spring Island as being one of the best looking guys around. He rates up there with Salt Spring Cheese and Salt Spring Gelato as things you need to experience when visiting the island.

One of the women, who desperately trying to keep her balance against the wall, told Celeste afterwards, “Here I am trying to stand on my head and the most beautiful man in the Universe walks in and wants a photograph.”

Here is the story:

The Gulf Islands Driftwood
November 24, 1999
Yoga retreat salutes the sun
by Tanya Lester

Despite the ongoing rain, participants at the Salt Spring Centre’s (SSC) recent “Creating Sacred Space” yoga retreat were able to access the sun.

Celeste Mallett, an ashtanga yoga teacher and retreat organizer, led the group of approximately 20 women in a “surya namasker” or “salute to the sun” on November 13.

During yoga practice, the sun is visualized. At one point, for example, Mallet directed participants to picture its healing rays around the heart.

According to Mallet, the 12 physical yoga postures in the surya namsker represent the 12 months in the year and the 12 zodiac signs.

All muscles of the body are exercised and health benefits are numerous. In fact, “a person who practises it daily in conjunction with moderate and regular life habits, like sleeping and eating controllably, can almost be guaranteed perfect health throughout his or her life.”

Mallell said by the time the surya namasker is completed, the physical exercise has promoted blood flow and massaged every organ in the body, resulting in an elevated felling of invigoration for the practitioner.

It can have religious and mental health implications as well.

“For the person of devotional and religious temperament it can be practised with the attitude of reverence for the source of life, for the purification of the mind and heart through prayer,” Mallett stated.

“For sufferers of mental diseases, peace of mind can be found through its systematic concentration and relaxation.”

The weekend provided women with many options they can use to create “sacred space” in their busy lives. Prior to the surya namasker, the women took a half-hour meditative walk around the SSC grounds, in which they were directed to think about sending energy into the ground with one step and receiving energy from the earth with the next.

Each woman brought back a natural object, which was placed on an altar after the participant stated how it represented an issue or emotion that woman was dealing with.

Mallett shared a meditation with women which encouraged remembering calmness while taking the in-breath and to smile on the out-breath in order to relax facial muscles.

Throughout the weekend, women were encouraged to write in their journal in between practising yoga and meditations. They could also write poetry or prayers that might be used to find a sacred place in the future…

To read the first posts in this blog, please go to
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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or go to the title and the author at to read the first few pages and to buy it.


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