My favourite thing to be (more than a yoga teacher) is a yoga student. I've taken several great trainings recently including an Iyengar Immersion with Manous Manos, Psychology for Yogis with Livia Shapiro and Nectar & Fire, a Vinyasa Teacher Training with Noah Maze & Sianna Sherman. Manouso said that slower, mindful practice is unpopular because "responsibility is unpopular." Livia taught us about "the shadow," an unconscious part of ourselves where we push our experiences away.
I've been given a lot to think about and work on.
Noah Maze has been one of my main teachers for awhile. For me he has been a steady, trusted guide, especially as I've navigated big changes in the yoga world. His strength and clarity ground my practice and teaching. In Sianna I've found a teacher who takes me into the lesser-known esoteric practices of yoga: mythology, mudra and mantra. I can't wait to participate in whatever she offers next!
Sianna said, "Darkness can be the most intense form of light." The secret, mysterious, esoteric teachings of yoga have always called to me. Growth is always underslung with fear, doubts, confusion, imbalance and uncertainty. A great teacher and sincere practice will take us there.
As we fade to Fall, the days get shorter, and nights get darker, I'm looking forward to plunging into the caverns of my consciousness, with that little flashlight of curiosity and a lot of self-love.
What does my practice look like? From outside my window I'm sure it looks simple and a little bit weird: a guy contorting himself into yoga poses, sitting there on a folded blanket for 20mins or so, curled up in the sunshine reading, staying up late writing, occasionally looking up as if there was a thesaurus on the ceiling or the stars were cue cards. Internally, it's like turning the pages of a book pressed tightly together, remembering the wisdom of a life story.
There is a sanskrit term, vicara, that means sacred inquiry or lengthy consideration. Practice includes sitting awhile with the deeper questions. It is also simply watching the seasons change, a shapeshifting cloud, the sun go down and the moon come up. What's happening is consciousness is unfolding, unraveling and revealing itself in everything. We are beauty's witness. I wonder why we think it's not enough sometimes?
What if we could just drop that insatiable need to be entertained? How much darkness do we need face in letting go of our little addictions? Change is scary. Several of the deities are shown holding up their hand in abhya mudra, a gesture that both invites depth and says "be courageous."
Darkness isn't a trap door it's an initiation into practices that are about the light of the soul. The initial discomforts of practice send many seekers clutching for more familiar territory. Most folks can't begin practicing on their own. A teacher needs to help them get started. The greatest teachers will take you safely into the dark where you might feel uncomfortable in your body and uncertain of your beliefs. It's ok. The teachings of yoga tell us that everything grows from the underground or descends from the dark womb of possibility.