After a light meal of soup and salad we met for the first time as a group last night in the Pine Room. After introductions, Suzee and Paul distributed a hand out and the director of LMB gave a brief talk about the trails, our accommodations, and how to fend off mountain lions.
My roommate is Kristen Butero. She and her husband Bob own a yoga studio in Devon, Pennsylvania: www.yogalifeinstitute.com. They publish a monthly magazine called Yoga Living. Bob Butero’s written a book The Pure Heart of Yoga. It’s a guide to help us apply yogic philosophy to everyday living.
Kristen has a great depth of yoga knowledge and I’m grateful to have her as a roommate.
For instance, she was a great help last night. For the past two decades my yoga experience has been Iyengar influenced. The yoga I am here to study – yin yoga – is the anti-thesis of Iyengar. I’m not being asked to unlearn everything I’ve been taught, but to be open to the possibility that there is another way. Even so, I’m finding the task difficult. It’s not that I considered Mr. Iyengar’s method perfect. But it has been close to perfect for me. Maybe that’s because I like everything to have a place, and I want everything in its place. A foot here, an arm there, look this way, breath that way. That would be easy if we were all the same. But we’re not. We’re not the same physically nor are we the same energetically.
I took on board all this information yesterday. It’s basically contrary to everything I’ve been taught and – I’ll admit it – I got a little rattled. Here’s how Kristen talked me down from the ledge last night: In her opinion, over the last several thousand years, as the sages moved their bodies and the asanas were evolving into the yoga poses we know today, yogi’s were seeking the position where they felt their energy move without inhibition. The position where their energy – their prana – flowed freely.
And that’s why my nice, neat little yoga wall is coming apart one brick at a time. And if I’m honest, it hurts, but I like it. I’m confused but I’ll be all right. Right now I’m fairly confident I’ll still be a yoga teacher when this is all over. Fingers crossed.
But seriously, in a group of students, why should we strive to make poses seem identical? Why should they remain static? What I learned from Paul and Suzee today is that poses are organic. They can shift. They have a functional aspect that we often sacrifice for the aesthetic (read that again – go on – read it – it’s a big deal, and I learned it today). Furthermore, everyone in the room experiences the pose differently. Not only does every person in the room experience the pose differently, but I believe we experience the pose differently each time we practice. It is not be the same experience.
A bit about our schedule. The day begins at 7:00 with thirty minutes of meditation followed by breakfast. We meet for two hours of yoga at 9:00 and then a one-hour lecture. Following lunch we have a further three hours of lecture, theory and practice. Practice is when we work in groups and analyze structural differences, work on modifying poses for different situations and study anatomy.
And if you’re wondering, the vegetarian food is great. I was hoping to leave a few pounds lighter. If they keep serving thick lentil soup with warm bread and butter I don’t think that’s going to happen.