Friday, July 1, 2011

The Field Day Yogi

It’s why I do it. It makes all the planning, reviewing and reflecting worth it. Ask just about any yoga teacher and they will agree that the affirmations from their students about their yoga ‘off the mat’ experiences just rocks them through to 
the dawn.
Typically, the insights that are shared pertain to pranayama; students will recount stories of sleepless nights and how the miracle practice of breath work lulled them back into a blissful slumber.  By focusing on their breath in times of stress, conflict and anxiety, students figure out which breathing practice to initiate to assist them in navigating intrepid waters of communication.  After hearing about these events, yogis return back to the mat with a rededication to the practice because they know it works for them... pharmaceuticals be damned! 
One of my students shared her most recent yoga moment and, I have to say, the experience she shared with me was, in a word, adorable!  “Betty” was participating in a team building event at work that included casual dress day, a picnic, and field day. After the employees dined together on the traditional outdoor barbeque fare, the employees were divided into teams for afternoon events. Each teammate was given a field event to participate in; some required speed and athleticism while others required skill and strategy. Betty was bestowed the egg and spoon race, in which she had to navigate an obstacle course while carrying an egg on a spoon and be the first one to the finish line with an unbroken egg to win the race. 
Betty described how she calmly assessed the course and remained focused as well as balanced by her core stability. Tuning out cheers and chatter, she devoured the field event without dropping the egg! Her co-workers praised her extraordinary effort in her race “You didn’t drop the egg... not even once! How did you do that?” they exclaimed. Betty responded, “I am quite certain my yoga practice is what affected my ability to perform so well.” She went on to say that it was her “balance, a focused gaze and a steady, calm approach” that she had cultivated in her yoga classes that really made the difference. She recited this story with the light and enthusiasm of a third grade student at field day; it was so endearing! I got a fabulous feeling that Betty had become a shining ambassador of yoga amongst her co-workers, and that they really got to know Betty on a more personal level.
Boom! There it is; that word, “shining,” a word that I am starting to hear more frequently in my yoga studies. Currently, I am reading “Yoga From The Inside Out” by Christina Sell. Christina is a certified Anusara yoga teacher from San Marcos, Texas who also teaches on Yogaglo. The Anusara style of yoga founded by John Friend, grounded in a Tantric philosophy of intrinsic goodness, is heart inspiring, heart opening and teaches you to shine your light. I am not able to intelligently speak any further about this style of yoga as I have taken only one Anusara inspired yoga class in real life (so I have stuck a single yogi toe into this path of yoga.) What I can say is, that after taking the Anusara inspired class and several Anusara Yogaglo classes, I felt luminous, like I had a power source of light and energy. I felt authentic and genuine in my practice and intention, right down to my cellular being - the same things that I was witnessing in Betty that day. It was a phenomenal moment to be basking in someone’s shining soul and observe that light beaming onto others as students gathered around her to hear her story.  
Since that day, I have caught myself closing out my classes with “Shine bright yogis”... I am really getting hooked on that mantra. Think of that mantra as if it were a chant; root and cheer yourself and your kula in the greatest event of all. Life. 

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