Once upon a time I was working at World Cup on the corner of Taos Plaza and a new woman was hired, her name was Suki. She was new to town and I had recently crossed paths with her at the Alley Cantina where she I watched her dance freely like no one was watching in the middle of an empty dance floor. I could not take my eyes off of her, spellbound by her willingness to be so free despite having all eyes in the room on her, like my own. The day she began working at the Cup I had been deemed the person with all of the information to fill her head in order to teach her to be the best Barista she could be. It was July 2005, at the time I had a boyfriend who lived in Seco the day before her training my boyfriend and I enjoyed the Seco 4th of July parade, and that night I got a spider bite on my ankle. I recall noticing the spider bite after it happened and not thinking to much of it, however by the next morning it had started to swell, and by the time Suki and I showed up at the World Cup for the afternoon training shift it was the size of a tennis ball. During the course of our six plus hours my right ankle swelled to the size of a football and Suki insisted on mopping the floor, which in my training routine was something I generally kept until the next closing shift, however this time I could not refuse. Being stubborn and not quick to visit a doctor when in illness I was telling her that I would probably just go home and rest after we were finished. Suki, being the sensitive, aware, and intelligent woman she is, suggested I go to the emergency room. We investigated the bite again and noted that it was starting to look like a volcano with big blue streaks coming down from it. Looking at this grotesque image I knew it was time to go to the hospital. That afternoon was the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship of teaching, and learning from each other.
Suki came to Taos to do a Yoga Teacher Training in Santa Fe, and being an avid skier she intelligently informed herself that Taos Ski Valley would fit her fancy far more than Santa Fe’s terrain. It had been eight years since I was ejected through a windshield, suffered a severe break to my lower back, and taught myself to walk again. Over the course of those many years yoga had been suggested to me, but as I said in my previous story I am stubborn, and I hadn’t gotten around to exploring what yoga was all about by the time Suki arrived. Just like the night at the Alley when she was dancing, over the course of the next few months working with her I noticed Suki was so very vibrant in all she did, her sense of self was strong and secure and she shined like her pearly white teeth behind her wide and friendly smile. It’s another story, perhaps a book of it’s own, to describe how I felt at that time in my life and why I felt that way however, I was not feeling so shiny, and I wanted to know how to feel the way Suki felt. One thing she was doing and had done for most of her life was yoga, and now she was beginning to teach. She invited me to attend her class, I just couldn’t say no. No matter how insecure I was, how afraid I was of not knowing what I was doing, how stubborn I was about my limitations related to my back, I just had to go. Something about Suki’s bright smile and the tenderness with which she treated me from that day with the spider bite said to my fear, “don’t worry, you will be safe.”
I remember that first yoga class, it was in January of 2006. I remember my first down dog, it felt agonizing as my arms shook, then Suki made the invitation to express the posture from the feeling of our hearts. My heart softened immediately remembering it’s desire to be happy, and knowing the space I was in was safe.
Everyone comes to yoga for their own, unique, and personal reasons. Everyone has their own intentions, motives, and desires of what they wish to get out of the practice. Though eight years have now passed I think back and it is apparent to me my motives are still the same. I wish to be happy and peace-filled while traversing this wild and crazy ride called life. I wish to experience this happiness true to myself, in the fullness of my authentic expression without hesitation or fear of who may be watching. I know that at the heart of sharing this experience of my Spring Yoga Challenge through this blog is this truth of my desire to be courageous while standing bare and vulnerable for the world to see. Along my journey of the past eight years deeply devoted to this practice I have developed all of the skills I use to stand vulnerably as my authentic self with courage most deeply through this beautiful and continuing relationship with my dear teacher, friend, and student Suki. In this truth so much gratitude fills my heart and the joy of this gratitude brings tears to my eyes.
After awaking this morning from dreams that were no where near as delightful as I would have called sweet, I awoke feeling a bit more ill than I would have liked. Stuffy nose and slightly feverish I spent the morning quietly, took a walk with my dog, enjoyed fresh air and decided that it was the time to finish this journey I set myself upon. If I had not challenged myself to complete the task by the 30th of April I would not have gone to class today, however, stubborn old me made my way over to Shree at noon to see my dear beloved teacher.
Suki guided us through beautiful asana of deep hip flexing and twists to sooth our nervous system and help us to drop more deeply into the quiet calm fibers of our being in order to bring us ease in the wild and voracious wind of the past couple days. I silently acknowledged to myself that I had not felt to shaken by the wind and appreciated this inner calm was a sweet benefit of all of this yoga I have been doing. Suki remarked on the quality of the wind being like the quality of our mind often blowing, sometimes blustering, and providing the potential to create a constant sense of unease. The ultimate teaching she offered her students this afternoon is that yoga’s purpose is to quiet the mind stuff, to calm the winds of blustering thoughts so we may enjoy the ever present well of inner peace. As always, I found myself returning from Savasana with the winged expression of joy, gratitude, and love for this magnificent teacher rising from the well of peace in my heart.
Being an owner of Shree Yoga limits the possibility of being rewarded in the most fabulous ways our students are rewarded materially by use for completing classes 7, 14, and 21 of the Spring Yoga Challenge. Yet, the rewards of practicing regularly are not restricted from my experience and I have experienced many. Through the calm diving into the well of my grieving heart, to the equanimity experienced in the ease I feel when the wind blows wild outside, and all the other resonances of my energetic and physical body and tastes of riches in my free spirit and open heart between, I have been rewarded.
Almost a decade ago this powerful relationship of friendship and studentship began, it has in itself multiplied into many aspects of my life and ever continues to bring me more joy. I do not know if Suki knew I would be attending her class today, however, she brought me a gift, an edible treat of powerful super-foods we discovered on our journey to Maui together a few years ago, Happy Balls. After class I delightfully devoured my happy ball and began to sing from the truest joy in my heart…If you are not familiar with Pharrell William’s new song Happy consider this your introduction…
“Clap your hands, if you feel like a room without a roof. Clap your hands if you feel like happiness on the move…Because I’m happy happy happy happy…happy happy happy happy!” You can check out his uber inspiring and creative video here. http://24hoursofhappy.com/
Once upon a time I was bit by a spider feeling as grey as a cloudy day. A wonderful yogi of luster and long fibers guided me out of the gloom and along my way. Now I’m at home and though I’m alone I’m as happy as I could be. Knowing inside me is all I will ever need to be willing, courageous, and free.
If you have been keeping up with me along this journey I thank you for sharing it with me. It is my deep belief that the more we share of our experiences the narrower we bring the gap of separation between us and feeling alone in our suffering, or as I like to call it, being human.
There is still one more day to dive in and get your feet wet on your own magical Spring Yoga Challenge. Yes it will be difficult in more ways than one. Yes it will require commitment and tenacity. Yes it will deepen the quality of joy in your life in all of it’s rewards. Stop by Shree for tonight’s 5:30 class or tomorrow’s, 7:30 am, 9:30 am, Noon and 5:30pm classes to begin.
That is all for now, and this marks The End….of this story at least.
With love, all ways, for giving, in joy,