In the old days class twenty would have marked the moment of crossing the finish line of the Spring or Autumn Yoga Challenge at Shree Yoga Taos. However in 2014, we decided twenty wasn’t enough and twenty-one would be an appropriate upping of the ante for those like me who fervently take the plunge regularly. In the old days I would have experienced an elated delight toward the end of class, just like the experience I had this evening when my body made an inner exclamation of and undying love of yoga and being in my body. Unlike challenges past, as I finished class this evening there would not have been just one more class looming in the distance.
Many times in my life I have been asked, “What is it you love about yoga, what brings you back to the mat?” My answer to the question has always been true and despite the many years that have gone by it continues to be the same. “There is always more room”, I answer with confidence and ease. The longer I practice the more often I experience more room in my body even if it is limited in its movement. I experience more room in the energetic body followed by more room in the relaxed quality of my muscles. No matter the spaciousness or limitations of my physical body I find there is always more room in my mind after I practice, less judgement, less criticism, less running around in circles on the same thought, any thought, be it expansive or limiting, dissipates like vapors off a hot cup of tea. Mostly however, the thing I find most appealing is that there is always more room in my heart to love and be loved, to experience joy no matter my physical surroundings, freedoms, or limitations. This spaciousness in my heart translates directly to my spirit which always feels after a yoga practice unlimited in its expansion, unlimited in its knowing, unlimited in awareness of time and space, unlimited in it’s eternal presence and connection with the eternal heart of all hearts. Even if my awareness of this radical unlimited spaciousness of my spirit is only for just a tenth of a second, I have the great joy of experiencing it every time I come to my mat.
When I was doing my yoga teacher training my teacher Bea Doyle so brilliantly said, “It does not matter what type of yoga you practice, it is ultimately a spiritual practice. A student may say that’s not for me and align them self to a rigorous physical practice with a teacher who never touches on the spiritual aspect of the yoga. However, it is inevitable they will find themselves asking “does this serve me?”, and no matter the answer, the question itself is spiritually based.” Bea calls this “the back door approach.” Bea is a remarkable teacher who has a subtle way of including the spiritual qualities of the practice without ever sounding dogmatic or off putting. Perhaps that is because she was a math teacher for twenty years? I feel so fortunate to honor her as my teacher and I often hear her wise and intelligent voice in my head, as well as in other teachers at Shree who have also studied with her. Like Bea, I do my best to bring the spiritual aspects to the classes I teach, however I know I am not as subtle about it as she is, being that subtle wouldn’t suit me as it would not be authentic. Authenticity is another valuable teaching I learned in her spacious and beautiful studio Bhava Yoga on Central in Albuquerque, authenticity, spirituality, asana, spaciousness, how to string instructions together, and so much more.
Now it’s been five years since I finished that teacher training, five years since Shree opened it’s doors, five years of regular teaching which amounts to thousands of hours, maybe seven yoga challenges including autumn and spring, and countless hours of time on my mat at home, in class, and elsewhere. Tonight as I was rising into locust pose (Salabasana), a pose that for all these years of practice has not only alluded me, but also brought that discomforted “why am I doing this?” question to mind, I felt surprisingly and amazingly good. “Ah, I love yoga!” exclaimed my body as we repeated the pose and an old mystery became clear. “Ah, I love that there is always more room.” I reminded myself to mark that moment as an important one on my path of always learning, and like the invitations of my teacher suggested, I moved on.
This evening I attended Liz’s 5:30-7:00 pm class knowing it would be subbed by Doug Gilnet. In this challenge I have made a concerted effort to get to all the wonderful teachers at Shree’s classes. With the exception of Kelly who is out of town, I have been successful. Class was a perfectly paced slow flow of back bends and forward bends. With my new awareness of the high point of my hip, and the ever changing strength and flexibility of my muscles through this winding yoga journey I felt really really great through tonight’s entire practice. Music is my favorite drug and in my world always makes life more delightful, for his class Doug offered his students a really gentle mix of beautiful music to support our time on the mat. Traditionally yoga was taught by men, I find the quality of a mans voice while teaching yoga to be inspiring, steadfast, secure, and supportive, and Doug’s voice fits this description. Doug generally teaches at Shree on Monday afternoon’s from 3:30-5:00 pm, he also heads the yoga program at Ojo Caliente, where he can be found Tuesday through Friday should you desire to take yourself on a really nice personal yoga and soak retreat. However you find your way I highly recommend attending Doug’s class, I am confident you will leave like everyone left class tonight, calm with a peaceful serenity across your face.
Now, as darkness begins to blanket this magical town I so fortunately call home and I contemplate the solar eclipse taking place with tonight’s full moon, thinking this must be the dark side of the moon Pink Floyd spoke of, I restfully reside in my inner light, ever-growing like the expanding universe and the spaciousness of my heart.
One more to go, yet so many more to come.
When a new galaxy comes into creation do you think perhaps the conscious intelligence that breaths us all ever states “just one more”? Who knows? I know, I don’t know the answer to that question, yet the universe continues to expand, as does my heart.
With love from my big spacious heart, and the ever expanding curiosity of my spirit and mind, good night, sweet dreams, in joy,