Lalita, the one “who dwells in the forest of bliss, whose ornaments glisten with gold, who wears a great pearl necklace, whose mouth rolls with wine, who is the giver of great compassion, who has wide eyes and wanders free….” Shankara

Viridian, artichoke, aquamarine, vetvier, forest, moss, myrtle, pine, tea, teal, olive, hooker, fern, emerald, asparagus, light,  All of these shades and thousands more lay down upon the land of North Carolina in an impenetrable micro climate of lush decor. Rain in sheets of green, rain and more rain and then some more. At first a delightful change from the southwest but after days the heaviness of the water is palpable in the spirit.

Saluda.  Coon Dog Day is a tribute to the southern tradition of chasing raccoons up trees.  Larger cultural metaphors abound. Leaping hounds, camouflage, tie dye and turkey thighs.  A friend, a poet, is dressed in Carhart overalls with his fountain pens resting assuredly in the breast pocket of his rough and tumble dungarees.  An old flag found in the mud has been brushed off and tucked into the brim of his flat top summer hat. He explains his vision behind his eyes and I draw it out on paper like a ritual seance. There is flashing silver in every color. I draw thunderbolts that run off the page in black ink, one on top of the other. The children get muddy in the wet playground.

Before bed every evening out on the verandas there are lightening storms lighting up like cathedrals of white fire.  Punctuated by the ever present fire flies, glitter amidst the storm. Before I close my eyes, laying in bed, the fireflies continue to dance above my head, circling the room in bursts of spontaneous combustion. These creatures keep the weirder world palpable, an access point to an alternate place of forest where their fairy cousins preside. If you have forget about your brethrenif you have forgotten how to know the gnomes and see the fairies then you simply must visit the forests of North Carolina. The roads are like roller coasters through rain forestslong, winding, up and down. I am queasy every time I sit down into a car.  But when you arrive at your destinations, these small towns buried in forest you find wonderful things.  There are possums in the pantries and bears in front of the porches.

I got to spend a few evenings reclining at the Saluda Inn and Wine Cellar where Chandler Fritz manages a live music venue in the cellar of a grandiose old house. The lighting was dark, the mood calm and the entertainment outstanding. Saluda is lucky to have a spot where folks can go unwind with excellent vino and hear fresh music from Asheville.

The Yoga in Saluda is growing thanks to the help of Raphaela Fritz at her sweet little studio Nectar. There she teaches regular weekly classes that blow my mind every time I attend. The community is a hometown crew, everyone chats and knows about the pulse of their neighbors. The yoga mats are filled with enthusiasm and willingness.What strikes me most about Raphaela’s classes is her profound knowledge of ancient yogic iconography and myth.  She weaves kernels of wonder throughout her teaching without blinking an eye. Her knowledge is profound and only enhanced by her deep knowledge of the human body in optimal alignment. One afternoon Raphaela held a special evening class at her friends new zip-line business nestled in the tree tops outside of Saluda. A strong core of Saluda’s women showed up and danced through the practice overlooking a deep fold of emerald forest. It had been raining hard all day but once the deck was swept and the mats were out the clouds held for a sublime expression of sadhana and kula.

I had the lovely opportunity to teach a workshop while visiting my homies.  It was a bright window into the community and all of the participants pushed themselves with humor and strength. This was my second time teaching a special workshop at this spot and I hope to return again. The sri energy of the space makes it a solace for yogis in the nestled in towns in Saluda and beyond.

In Asheville I spent a few hours applying for jobs and preparing for my return to NOLA at the super groovy cafe Firestorm Cafe. This cute place housed gutter-punks, wanderers and poets. Their wide selection of radical books and zines put me at ease. I was truly annoyed with the amount of traffic lights in the small city.  However it is a sweet place, a hub for people just like me but it is not simply not Cinderella’s shoe. There is wonderful street art splashing under bridges and the sides of gallery start-ups.  The people are friendly and there is an abundance of good tea, coffee, chocolate and a crazy bulk section in their co-op. I opted not to take any yoga classes in Asheville even though I heard of many wonderful teachers. I wanted to focus my energy into Nectar and the Saluda yoga studio, and I wanted to keep working on revamping my own asthanga primary series practice.

I am deeply put off by the recent Senate votes to put extremely tight restrictions on abortion, not to mention the outright bigotry aimed at the LGBT communities in North Carolina. Asheville is certainly the main hub of liberal leanings in NC.  It would be too hard for me to live in the middle of of a gorgeous place surrounded by the oppression of enormous road side crosses emphatically stating demonstrative words read in the order of the father the son and the holy ghost. I did not know that the bible had its own way to order our eyes saccades and fixations in reading. I almost took a picture of one of these crosses but decided best not to visually represent the concept.

Lastly, I had coffee in Tryon, NC. the hometown in one of my favorite chanteuse heroins Mrs. Nina Simone. How amazing to step on the same earth that created such a strong and beautiful voice.

This is How I Feel, Feelin’ Good.






Mikhayla AndersonComment