A Grapevine service announcement Take note: Holiday Opening Hours
Travel
Exploring Infinite Consciousness In Snæfellsnes

Exploring Infinite Consciousness In Snæfellsnes

Words by

Published August 23, 2012

The Icelandic sun warms our cheeks as we arrive at Lýsuhóll farm on the Snæfellsness peninsula. The area is well known as the setting of Jules Verne’s novel ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth,’ but on this trip, it proves also to be a journey to the centre—of the self.
We are here for the Sumarsólstöður Yoga Festival, held annually during the Summer Solstice when the days are the longest. The festival goes on for three to four days, but it’s possible to go for a day or two, which is what we do.
Inhale. The mountains around the farm consist of sandy black rock formations that look as if they are about to collapse any second. Exhale. I pitch my tent. There are around forty people at the festival and most of them inhabit tents, although it is possible to stay in a room inside the house.
There’s no time to waste. The Kundalini yoga introduction is beginning. A group of mostly women sit in a circle and listen to the teacher, Estrid. “The mind is like an untamed horse,” she says. “We have to learn how to tame it. Kundalini yoga represents one of the attempts to gently tame it.”
Kundalini yoga, which originates from ancient India, is focused on sounds and the chanting of the mantras, which use powerful syllables or sets of words for spiritual transformation. It’s about the inward travel, finding a connection to something larger than us.
Don’t worry, don’t be afraid
The introduction is over and we have a 30-minute drive before we arrive at Djúpalónssandur, where the sea glistens in the sun. A Bill Hicks quote comes to my wandering mind: “Hey, don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.”
The grass stings through the yoga mat as I sit down in the cross-legged lotus position at Hólahólar, the crater of a volcano. I close my eyes and attempt to connect the dots. I make pulsing hand movements, which are often directed towards one specific part of the body—in this case towards the glands and the hormones connected to them. I give into it, breathing rhythmically in… and out… concentrating on the body; my mind travels inwards.
Back at Lýsuhóll, dinner is ready. The food is organic, vegetarian and delicious: lentil soup, salads and homemade bread. After dinner, I take part in the ‘Seva,’ which literally means ‘selfless service,’ everyone takes turns helping to do the dishes
I take my yoga mat and move on to the big meditation room. Yoga Nidra is on the schedule. This soft version of yoga is far less physical and my mind drifts off into a strange state of consciousness. This type of final meditation happens at the end of a practice and proves to be one of the most intense experiences of the festival for me, sending me somewhere between being awake and asleep, aware and oblivious. The day ends.
Break on through to the other side
At 5:45 in the morning I’m all but wide-awake. My muscles are sore and I’m exhausted. My mind, however, feels relatively calm. Outside, birds are chirping. I crawl out of my tent and into the meditation room.
After breakfast we gather for a yoga practice outside. While I’m staring into the blue sky, I keep thinking that the powerful landscape around me facilitates this practise. The mountains inspire energy and power, yet are impregnated with the still freedom that is only to be found in Iceland. The exercises get more difficult and my leg muscles shake. There’s no pressure though. You do what you can, and you learn to understand your own limits.
In the afternoon we visit Lýsuhólslaug, a pool that supposedly has cleansing powers. Tara, a massage therapist who also performs water shiatsu (a relaxing water treatment involving water floating), hands me what looks like a silver glitter helmet from the future, a floating hat that is meant to facilitate the practice.
I plunge into the algae-filled pool. I float on the water and she moves my body gently through it. I’m weightless. The sounds of other people in the swimming pool are muffled, almost disappearing. As I float, I lose all sense of time and space.
As I take down my tent on Saturday night, I am grateful to have come to this festival. Yoga is a way of life. The word comes from Sanskrit and means “union.” It is a personal union, and no matter how much I try to recount it, it is something you will need to explore and discover yourself. Having said that, it’s of course not the only way to achieve fulfilment and happiness, it’s just one way. But it’s definitely worth trying.



Travel
Wrestling With Your Own Fear

Wrestling With Your Own Fear

by

Adrenalíngarðurinn (“The Adrenalin Park”) is an amusement park for adults: an obstacle course that offers 45 obstacles on three levels for those willing to step outside of their comfort zone. I chose to go straight up to the top floor, because I wanted the “authentic experience.” Of course, I was kicking myself over my decision as I hesitantly began crossing the first obstacle, a rope bridge with two out of every three steps missing. I told myself I was waiting for our photographer, Matt, to get into a good position for a shot. In reality, I was mostly just second-guessing

Travel
Winter Westfjords And The Art Of Zen

Winter Westfjords And The Art Of Zen

by

When I set off on a Westfjords adventure in early November, I never expected it to be such an educational experience. But, it was. What I learned was the utter futility of trying to defy the elements, how one must sometimes just surrender to the environment. City slickers heading to the Westfjords in wintertime, heed this warning: you are not in control. The forces of nature are. And that’s fine. When it comes to tourism, November is definitely the off-season for the northern Westfjords, just a few skips from Greenland. Some might say this is for good reason. Up there,

Travel
Americans Love Iceland

Americans Love Iceland

by

A couple of weeks ago I was hiking on a trail about 90 minutes from my home in Portland, Oregon, USA. I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen for a year. I asked her what she’d been up to. “Oh, I just got back from Iceland,” she said. “Really? I’m going Wednesday.” Is the whole world going to Iceland? Apparently so, I learned when I picked up the recent tourism issue of the Reykjavík Grapevine. And I’m not sure I should tell you this, since that issue pointed out the not entirely positive effects of tourism, but a lot

Travel
Merchants’ Weekend Is Here!

Merchants’ Weekend Is Here!

by

Every year in Iceland, the first weekend in August is dedicated to celebrating Verslunarmannahelgi (“Merchants’ Weekend”), a labour day / bank holiday equivalent. While not everyone is actually a Merchant, every Icelander is encouraged to celebrate like the holiday is their own, with many getting three or four days off work. Though it is traditionally Iceland’s heaviest drinking weekend, there are plenty of ways for everyone to have fun, including Pride parades, spiritual programs, and swamp soccer. We highlight some of the most well-known festivals taking place this holiday weekend. The Gæran Festival is held in the town of Sauðárkrókur

Travel
Iceland In Miniature

Iceland In Miniature

by

Having planned to spend much of this summer—my first summer in Iceland, in fact—gallivanting around the country, I’ve instead spent most of my time in the city, close to home. But today, I’m lucky. In the name of research, my partner and I get twelve hours to explore the Snæfellsnes peninsula. This is “Iceland in miniature,” I’ve been told, a veritable “Best Of” sampler where many of the country’s most sought-out natural wonders exist side by side. Above The Lava Field Circumnavigating the whole peninsula would only take about three hours, but with limited time at our disposal, we decide

Travel
Into The Abyss

Into The Abyss

by

“It’s a good thing you’re going underground,” our bus driver calls out as his windshield wipers work furiously to bat away the rain. I watch the drops race across my window, blurring the moss-covered lava field that surrounds us. We are headed thirty minutes southeast of Reykjavík, with the intent of entering the chamber of a dormant volcano that erupted 4,000 years ago. In Jules Verne’s fantastical novel, the Snæfellsjökull volcano is an entry point to the centre of the Earth. But in the real Iceland, Þríhnúkagígur is the only volcano where dreams of descent can be realised, and only

Show Me More!