I took my first yoga class in a gym called Body Blast my junior year of High School.
It was an accident really – a spillover from the kick boxing class I attended beforehand. For whatever serendipitous reason that particular day, I decided to stay and work on my flexibility. Sandwiched between exercise balls and middle-aged, upper-class women in pink velour sweat suits, I got my first taste of yoga.
Looking back, I only remember one thing from that class. The teacher told us a story of yogis in India who went through a rite of passage where each sat in the middle of a frozen stream, and—using only their breath and one-pointed focus of the mind—melted the snow and ice around them. It might seem small and inconsequential now, but at the time it blew open my world with a fresh taste of possibility. It was all so foreign and mysterious. I had to know more.
Ten years of deepening and I’m five months into my second teacher training this time in Anusara Yoga. The reflection sparks a series of insights like a spider’s web, where each nexus, each point as you make your way to the center sit closer and closer together, until you reach the hub of the greatest interconnectedness; the place of stability from which you look out at the other points radiating in all directions and you get a sense of the vastness of this art project you call your life.
John Friend’s Melt Your Heart, Blow Your Mind Tour 2010 kicked off here in San Francisco. I was called to attend, and in that calling I traced back the web lines in all directions that weaved me present. Inspiration begets inspiration and my decision to teach was born of surplus.
For me it will be a path of great transformation through challenge. It’s not the knowledge or experience or even the classroom setting that will cause me to waver, but the rigidly high expectations I set for myself – the deep-seated fear of being uninspiring and uninformative.
Here in the Bay I’m in an immersion with Sianna Sherman – a light and gift on the path of yoga, an inspiration to me, my hoop sister. Last weekend she called me at the studio before class. Stuck in traffic, she asked me to take the group into down dog and through a series of warm-ups. Simple enough, but I had to fight the feelings of inadequacy and panic – the inner dialogue that argued ‘you don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t have anything to offer.’ Sweat trickling down my back, I heard my voice rise up and out, as if from far away…
Imagine how easily we could slip into our inert gifts if we didn’t live so much of our time convincing ourselves we’re not ‘that’? I’m learning to teach because I feel called to give back, because the fire that’s burning brightly wants to be free to catch and spread. Layer by inner layer is peeling back to reveal a greater source of light—and with it a raw vulnerability that makes my heart beat faster in recognition that the edge is just one step to either side. I take inventory of this new territory in reverence for its next-level undercurrent.
Immersion III takes place in Park City, Utah in August. Until then, my practice is to remember that as we pass from one threshold to another – one diksha to another, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused…lost in the mire that is the mud to your lotus flower.
The key John teaches, is to trust in the Absolute and to pray. Not for challenges to be removed but to cultivate the strength to pass to the next level effectively, safely and skillfully. To grow and move on, is the best way we can say thanks – to honor our teachers and ride the Tiger into innovation, onto the next level of our Life’s Art.
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