April 1, 2010

My Yoga Conference Experience.

“expectations are often surpassed”

I spent the past weekend taking workshops at the Yoga Conference and Show in Toronto. It was my first time attending, and my first time studying with Dharma Mittra, Seane Corn, and Natasha Rizopoulos. I had been looking forward to it for a long time – but, as they say, expectations can be dangerous.

I think I went in to the conference with the naïve expectation that it would somehow solve all the problems that had seemed to be accumulating in my life over the past few weeks. Immersing myself in yoga and learning from master teachers would somehow provide me with all the guidance that I needed in order to be completely content again. Surely Dharma Mittra could make the stress of school and family disappear! Instead, I found myself faced with the disconcerting reality of the increasing commercialization of yoga in the Western world. There were many wealthy women dressed head-to-toe in lululemon attire, chatting in groups about who said what to whom at what party. On the show floor, people milled about gathering free samples and spending exorbitant amounts on yoga clothing, jewellery, and products. I don’t judge wealthy people for their good fortune, nor do I believe that yoga must resist all Western influence whatsoever. Yet, the whole thing seemed like a giant cliché.

Although I was a little taken aback, I did learn a lot over the course of the weekend. My Friday spent with Dharma Mittra was surprisingly hilarious, and on Saturday, Natasha Rizopoulos exuded a deep understanding of yoga that was truly inspirational. My final workshop of the conference was Detox Flow with Seane Corn on Sunday. People were lining up outside the door an hour before the workshop began, jockeying for the prime spot in front of Seane. The room was packed, and there was barely even an inch of room around each mat.

The class was amazing, and Seane was truly an inspirational instructor. She worked us hard and made us face the uncomfortable realities of our everyday lives. It was worth every penny (many, many, many pennies). But the real highlight of the workshop wasn’t the fact that I sweated like a monster, or that I detoxified my system, or that it was taught by Seane Corn. For me, the real highlight of the workshop was the connections I was able to make with the fellow yogis around me. The yogini to the left of me was undoubtedly exhausted from an endless slew of yoga over the course of the weekend, but still managed to smile at me as we both struggled in a difficult core pose. I channelled all the strength that I could muster to offer her love and support. When the class had ended, the yogini to the right of me turned to me and said, “Thank you. It was wonderful moving beside you.”

I was absolutely blown away. Leo Buscaglia once said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” The fact that this woman, this beautiful woman, turned to me and thanked ME, of all people, for the simple fact that I moved beside her, was so amazing. These experiences with the lovely women to each side of me were what made my entire conference experience worthwhile. Wherever you are in the world, I thank you. So, what did I learn today? I learned that the true yoga can be found in the most unexpected places. And expectations? Well, they are often surpassed.

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