When I think back on my stay at the Carmel Valley Ranch, it was the sunrise yoga class that made my heart sing. It had rained overnight and this was considered unusual for the dry valley climate. The air felt damp and mossy but cleaner and less dusty after the smoke from the recent bush fires further up the coast.
The sunrise yoga class was scheduled to be outdoors high up on a platform overlooking Carmel Valley and surrounding landscape. A golf buggy took us to the outskirts of the sleeping hotel chalets and after that we had to hike with our yoga mats under arm up the hilltop ledge. The ascent was steep and by the time we had arrived, we were warmed up and breathless.
Below us the valley opened out and a low lying fog hung over the lower slopes as the sun struggled to surface. Our Yoga teacher Karen had been teaching yoga for 20 years and had a positive attitude as well as her own special versatility. This came in handy as the yoga floor, a square raised deck under a large oak tree was still damp from the previous nights rainfall. Rather than muddy ourselves, she led the class into a series of standing sequences with views out over the valley.
Our warrior poses had the air of elegance as we fixed our gaze in silence on the shimmering landscape. Shoulders and arms were lifted and stretched and Karen’s instruction to take deep breathes started to calm and focus the mind. The air felt wonderfully purified and it felt like we were one with nature. In a nearby field, a young doe grazed undisturbed, completing the atmosphere of this special place.
It wasn’t an intense yoga class but it was a beautiful one, made perfect by the view, the early morning light and the climb to get there. As we clambered back down the hill, the group had a sense of calm and serenity about it. Sometimes, yoga just needs to be simple for it to be truly special.
Carmel Valley Ranch, One old Ranch Road, Carmel, California 93923