I write to find my voice and for the joy of the craft. My voice today comes from a space deep inside. Touched, pricked, electric. If you don’t have the stomach for it, you’ve been warned. Today, I don’t know what my voice will sound like. What an honor it would be if you listened with me. In my heart of hearts without hesitation, I promise I would sit in stillness with you and listen to your beautiful beginning. If I know you – let’s set a date. If I don’t, you are in my prayers.
Background: The overarching rainbow
If you have been reading this blog, you might recall that I have been gearing up for my first overnight yoga trip – an Ashtanga/Mysore Intensive in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I had been nervous and joyful with anticipation since my family gave this gift to me for my birthday in July. I worried I wouldn’t be far enough along in my practice (i.e. ‘not good enough’) to hang with the yoga monsters I knew would be there. Graceful human form moving in space with intensity and purpose and clarity. I so love this yoga. But you know that. So I practiced the Ashtanga Primary Series as best I could without a teacher on my own. I bought and read books. I longed for and dreaded this experience all at once. Would I in any way measure up? An overarching existential question never more sharply reflected than in this process. I decided the link from Point A (my home in Virginia) to Point B (Ashtanga Center of OBX) would be a rainbow. In order to enjoy it, it must rain.
Day 1: I started falling apart
When I arrived at the beach I was drunk from loving the sound of the ocean and the quick whispers of the wind just a click jumpier than the swirl at home. My anticipation and nerves were at bay – I’m very good at denial when drugged by the glory of God’s creation. I slept fairly well arising at 4:30 for my usual morning ritual before Mysore practice at 6:00. I dressed in cute yoga clothes, French-braided my 44-year-old hair, and drove in the dark the 2 miles to the cozy and austere studio. The only soul I knew was it’s owner whom I had tripped into over spring break while searching for a hit of yoga. She was radiant. I won’t go into a lot of explanation of the Mysore style of yoga but it is very unique and tends to attract intense souls. It’s worth a whole post or many. I had hoped for some yoga soul sisters but that was not to be. Not yet anyway. I began my personal practice moving through sun salutations, standing forward bends, etc… and felt strong, if not a preschooler among yoga Ph.d.’s – That’s my toe/leg in the back.
After practice, we had a short break (translation: coffee fix) and returned for pranayama – coached breath work for one hour. And that’s when all hell started to break loose. We propped ourselves into a vigorous chest-opening position laying down.
That’s me in the pink.
We moved prana – air, life force, breath – up and down our spine. We ballooned and filled our bodies to capacity with our connection to life – precious O2. Life itself. If we are really good at it and in great shape we can breathe from the belly. Most only access prana from the nostrils to the chest/shoulders and back out. What a waste. With pranayama work you learn to control the movement of air with special retention and release sequences. Properly planned to promote clarity and light inside the body. Apparently I had a few energy blocks in my breath channels because later that day I started crying and felt like I didn’t stop for 2 days. It happens, I’m told with this kind of intense work. We debriefed the experience, started to chant, and next came a lovely, if not profound, lecture about the daring and adventure required of Yoga. This beautiful yoga, so big that we must take small sips – otherwise, we choke. And I did become choked up. I cried and cried – luckily it started after I left the studio. I had looked so forward to this event. I was a a bucketful for opposites. I wanted to go home but not. I was an accomplished yogi but not. I loved where I was but not. I was crazy but not. So I called in my life lines. Thank you, Beth – even though we traded messages, I felt you were in my process with me. Thank you, Dawn – our 40 years of friendship always amazes me. Thank you, Kathleen for the reconnections – all of them and for the bloodline and heart store that keeps us close over much time. I was miserable but not. I was Loved. Very. Very Loved.
Day 2: The beautiful beginning
A bit flummoxed over the state of my heart, I started the day with hope and apprehension. I was a little nervous that the tears would break through the gate of my happier demeanor. I asked our apprentice about the emotional release I had experienced after the work from the day before. She told me it does happen and that made me special and ripe and ready and right where I should be. She made me cry. For god’s sake, this was getting old. I got it under control and went into the sacred space filled with humanity of all kinds so dense you could smell it. Really smell it. And so we began.
With every inhalation to every sun salutation, the yogi arrives at the beautiful beginning.
The beginning of Creation.
The beginning of our own Existence.
The beginning of the cyclical Day.
The beginning of our Practice.
And so I was right back where I should be. Neutral. Connected to All. Grateful to be Here. Wherever it is, I can find my breath. My own beautiful beginning.
And so another time, my more lighthearted voice will return to give some good accounts of fun and frivolity during the event. There was plenty. Not the least of which is the burn on my eyelid from the spontaneous wax job I indulged in. Or the fart from a superhuman yogi in the bathroom.
Even in the deepest of deep voices there is a giggle gestating to remind us to lighten up and that we get a new beautiful beginning with every breath.
There’s more but this is enough for now.
What did you do this weekend?