After those amazingly fun afternoons, we organised our first class in Kawai Purapura. On the day at 4:20pm we recreated our space, but on a bigger scale, including pop-corn for everyone, our recycling cardboard as a support for drawing and carefully chosen music. We were excited and nervous at the same time.
Having already agreed on who was going to lead the class, we were preparing ourselves, visualising in our mind how to share this time in a mindful and productive way, allowing enough space for each individual to explore their inner reality, but at the same time supporting them.
When we give a piece of paper and colors to children, they will start drawing something, without overthinking, without judgement and what will come out will be a beautiful piece of art.
This was exactly our intention for the class! Creating a space where people allow their creativity to flow freely by getting in touch with their inner child; using a guided meditation would help them to connect with their emotions and thoughts and slowly bring them to the present, leaving the past behind and the future unknown.
People arrived right on time, smiles formed on their faces when looking at what we provided for the class. Papers, pens and pencils, it looked like a nursery room, ready to get messy!
Once everyone was settled, Dinny and I looked at each other already knowing it was going to be a good class.
We had decided to explore the first 5 Chakras (from Muladhara to Vishudda) as they are related to our senses, in order for them to seek their own connection to these feelings.
Sitting in a circle, we started the class with a guided meditation. This brought all of us together creating a deeper bond.
When we finished and opened our eyes again, we were so peaceful and calm that no one talked for the rest of the class.
We then briefly explained about the idea of creating a sharing mandala: each one could draw one circle of the mandala and then pass it on and we would share it at the end of the class.
Let the art begin!
Everyone, Dinny and I included, was so focused on what they were experiencing that the only communication they had, was to ask for a specific color or a hug.
It was beautiful to witness that the people sharing the space felt safe to explore whatever was coming up in their mind while also respecting each other.
With a feeling of calm and peace we concluded the class by observing the sharing mandala we created: it was amazing to notice how harmonious each circle was, even if such different styles were applied on all of them.
We also spotted how some people drew the same symbols or used the same color to express an emotion or a situation. We had all been connecting using non-verbal communication.
After this eye-opening experience we wanted to reach a bigger audience with Art Yoga and so we decided to apply for festivals.
The first one was NZ Spirit Festival 2020 Edition.
Check out the video to have an idea of how clueless we were of the actual potential of this project.
LOVE & LIGHT
Our art and yoga afternoons began quite randomly, as simple and unplanned as our friendship.
At the end of 2019 a dear friend of mine was on holiday for a few months and he gave me free access to use his hut whenever I wanted to. At the beginning I was only going there to water his plants until one day I invited Rawhiti over and somehow his space turned out to be our first playground.
Rawhiti and I were both working at the Yoga Retreat where we also used to live.
Straight after work, around 4pm, our meeting became a regular opportunity for us to enjoy our time free from any kind of worries.
The perfect occasion to co-create and share positive feelings, childhood memories and life dreams.
Since we were both working in key roles in the office environment, we didn’t want to be stuck even after our working hours in any sort of complaint conversations or reviewing our list of responsibilities for the following day.
Our spontaneous gatherings were born from the desire to escape from this very day-to-day routine as a good chance for us to chill, without problems or bad feelings involved.
It felt like we were back to our after school time, when you know that your job for the day is finished and you don’t have to worry about it until the next day.
Because of modern society, we always have the persistent sensation to keep running, non stop.
Run from morning until late night, run to work, run to compete, run to fit in, run to never be late.
But late for what? Run to go where? What is the purpose of being constantly stressed?
This is what we started asking ourselves and sharing this quality time together made us realise that it is never too late to start enjoying life with simple actions that make us feel fulfilled without a sense of guilt.
Our afternoons were designed for Rawhiti and I to completely enjoy, our main ingredients were a wide range of colors, our notebooks, a different playlist based on our mood of the day and of course popcorn!
It didn’t take us long to realise that these enlightening afternoons could become a great opportunity to share this valuable knowledge of how to return to our inner self diving into a journey through our senses and awareness with a larger group of friends.
So this is how Art Yoga begins, a blend of non-judgmental friends sharing their love for coloring, supporting one another and acceptance of ourselves as a whole.
LAUGH. SMILE. DANCE.
Art Yoga was born one afternoon, at 4:20pm, while Dinny and I were drawing together and singing songs from when we were teenagers. Those days were really precious for us, it was OUR moment to be present, connecting with our inner-child and letting our imagination create anything we wanted. There was no feeling of being judged, of not being a good artist. Everything we were doing was unique and pure.
From here, we decided to create a space in which people were able to get in touch with their emotions and thoughts and go back to doing something they used to love when they were kids… making Art!
Who did not like to make art when they were children?
Whether it was making a drawing, a painting, building with Lego, making music or dancing.
One of our main purposes was to show another way of meditating in order to find balance and peace within ourselves.
We gained our confidence and taught in different festivals around the North Island in New Zealand, until COVID-19 arrived.
We had so much time for ourselves that one afternoon, it must have been a couple of days after the lockdown had started, I was meditating in a beautiful part of the forest of the community I was living in, Kawai Purapura Retreat Centre.
Antonio, my partner, was playing a Native flute from South America which took me on a journey.
I had a vision of Dinny and I while we were drawing as usual, but this time what we were creating was a coloring book about us.
The more the flute was playing the deeper I was going in my meditation. I could see myself in another room, talking and laughing with Dinny. We were happy, excited, I could feel an inspiring sensation coming up from my Solar Plexus, just above my belly button, to the crown of my head. That was the moment I knew we had to create this book.
The next day I ran to Dinny’s hut to share this beautiful experience. As soon as I told her she looked at me and, with a big smile on her face, asked me when I wanted to start.
We started putting ideas down immediately. We wanted the book to be like an episode of one of our Art Yoga classes. The intention was to create a series of books for children and adults that talk about the principles of yoga and to plant some seeds about what it means to be mindful.
It was amazing, we spent every day of the lockdown doing exactly what we love. We were meeting in the morning and by the end of the day we had so much material to put together that, in 6 weeks, we had everything ready to print.
We enjoyed every single moment of this process, even when it was challenging, because it helped us break old limiting beliefs and turn our dreams into reality.
So this is what you will find in this coloring book A JOURNEY TO... An invitation to reflect on how to cultivate contentment and to have an opportunity to see how you feel while coloring it.
LOVE & LIGHT