This morning, during my practice, I was hit with waves of gratitude and felt inspired to share this story to you, my little broadcasting network on social media (WYGA?). If we all met for coffee today I would tell you all about in person, but alas, I am on this little island in Canada and you are wherever you are. So please, pour yourself a cup and lean in.
Yesterday I subbed a class for someone at my favourite local yoga studio. I hadn't taught a public group class in a while, and it was really great to meet some new people and share my practice with them. One of the people who showed up in this very diverse group was a little 80-year-old woman with Parkinson's disease.
The practice that I teach was new to some of these folks—the focus on long, smooth breathing with sound, the movement following the breath, exploring the pauses in between inhale and exhale—all the great stuff that Krishnamacharya gave us that has largely been let out of mainstream yoga. I could see that this little, somewhat frail looking woman was really 'getting it' and making the practice her own by adjusting her stance a little shorter, not going too deeply into forward bends or twists, and clearly, her movement was an expression of her breath. Hallelujah!
It was really amazing to see a room of twelve people of different generations, socio-economic backgrounds and yes, genders (there were men there, another hallelujah!), all moving in sync with their breath. Everyone at their own pace with a deep internal focus. The energy of that room was incredibly inspiring (forgive the pun) and a reminder to me of why I do what I do.
After the class a few people came up and thanked me and made some nice comments about the class and the "style" of yoga, and I had the opportunity to share a little bit about my teachers which is always nice. The little old woman waited around for everyone to leave and then approached me quietly to relate how she really enjoyed the class and the opportunity to be with her breath and move at her own pace, which led into her story of dealing with the onset of Parkinson's and how it's slowly degenerating her condition. We had a nice talk about yoga and healing and as we getting ready to leave I told her to, "Keep moving and breathing", to which she replied, "That's it. That's what it's all about". Hallelujah and amen.
My practice has shown me that the true religion is the re-linking of body, mind and breath, and through that, the realization of the Wonder of Life.
So this morning, the memory of all this hit me and waves of gratitude washed over me. Firstly, a profound gratitude for a studio like Hemma where an 80-year-old woman with Parkinson's feels comfortable and welcome to practice yoga. Really, that's a testament to what Michael and Kelly are doing there, as well as teachers like Cedar, whose class I subbed. I often feel at odds with the mainstream yoga studio culture, but that place is different. "Hemma" means "home" in Swedish, and they've really made a safe, supportive space for students and teachers alike.
Then, I was deeply grateful for my teacher Mark who first taught me how to make my practice personal and incorporate Krishnamacharya's principles, and then taught me how to teach others in a way that is both an expression of my own practice and life, while honouring the student's life and present condition.
I'm also grateful to my practice and the beautiful men who have brought it to me—Mark, TKV Desikachar, Krishnamacharya and his teachers. I'm so thankful to have this practice that continually reminds me of what it means to be alive, connected to nature and at home in my body.
My practice has shown me that the true religion is the re-linking of body, mind and breath, and through that, the realization of the Wonder of Life. My practice really is a whole body prayer to this Life. The energy of the Sun. The support of the Earth. The life-giving breath. The true holy trinity that all the spiritual symbols and texts point to. It's right here. Available to every one. You, me, your grandmother, your grandfather. It's what connects us, all the way back to the first Mother and Father.
Thanks for listening. Now, how's your day going?