[Photo by Lindsay Isola]
There are a few moments at the end of class when you sit up from the “cake,” as my teacher used to call Savasana, and inevitably some announcements are made about upcoming events. I never listened to these events. I never thought I was the one they were announcing them for. I just liked coming to yoga to feel my body move and to get clear in my mind, to hear some words of wisdom to inspire me through the week, nothing more or less. One day after the “cake,” there was that moment, the yoga promotion. Only this time, the teacher turned briefly toward me, said “YOU would be perfect for this immersion.” I smiled and wondered at this comment. I deeply respected her and felt she had a lot of knowledge to offer me, but I didn’t want to become a teacher or anything…
Later some little light bulb went off in my mind. Actually I WOULD be perfect for the immersion. I was going through a rough patch, one of those small crises of purpose and career. I was going through a breakup and feeling the need for a deep wellspring to fill me. It was the perfect time for me to devote to learning something new, to devoting some effort to my self. I was rich in time, and poor in dollars, but I never wanted money to hold me back. It made me think, I can use this to know myself better, to love myself more, to spend my time doing something positive. All good things can proceed from there.
So I signed up, feeling scared but optimistic. In the immersion, there were about 25 of us, and over that first weekend we had to choose someone to be our yoga “buddy.” I looked around the room and felt intimidated. People seemed so confident and comfortable! I felt nervous even to speak when we had our opening circle and were describing why we had committed to this program.
At the end of the weekend, I found my yoga buddy, or my yoga buddy found me: a hummingbird of a girl, tattooed all over with bits of text from Alice Walker books and third eyes and colorful lilies, and sparkling with an inner beauty. We tied red strings on each others wrists to remind ourselves of the commitment we had made to this program. I felt a new part of me open to this community of people. My red string caught my eye often, reminding me of the confidence I felt in the commitment I was making, to myself, to my health, to my clarity and strength of mind.
Over the course of the year as we met, we saw each other through good times and bad. We chanted and sang, learned about our doshas, practiced deeply refined versions of asana, looked at our poses and corrected one another’s alignment, meditated together by candlelight, sat in small groups and discussed big questions of life and spirituality, laughed and cried together about our answers and our honesty. There was really nothing scary here, in this room full of people who were all fabulously fascinating, kind, and devoted. There was only an opening, that I followed, to something warm and delicious, and which still lives and breathes inside me, guiding me into the future.
Written by Namaste Creative Director, Helene Cotton