Fog lifts off the “Up North” lake revealing my aunt Janice sitting cross-legged at the end of the dock. Her long blonde hair lays on her relaxed shoulders, as her head rests perfectly on top of her completely upright body. I register not a single movement of her silent body as only my toes attempt to touch the dew-draped grass. Each soggy step toward her has my gaze fixated on any action she makes. I followed her after hearing her footsteps pass my head nestled into my deco art black and white sleeping bag on the lake house floor. Deeply curious, I arose from my resting place in my yellow cotton summer pjs with tropical white flowers. What is she doing so early in the morning before anyone has awoken?
I walk close enough to observe without being heard. She just keeps sitting there, no movement, so I creep closer in case I am missing something. Still no movement, I wait. Occasionally my gaze shifts from her to the sky as it lightens with the day’s start. A noise from the woods quickly draws my head to see if the bear the adults were talking about is about before redirecting my gaze again on my aunt. Finally she stirs and stands after taking a deep bow. I turn and run back up the hill to the house, throw open the screen door, slip into the door in hopes of not waking anyone else, and slide back into my sleeping bag pretending to be asleep when Janice returns.
This image of her peacefulness still remains in my mind’s eye. I want some of that.
Somewhere around two decades later, I sit on a mattress upon a wooden bed frame. The smell of dried clay permeates the room where my friend’s father, a sculptor, has spent many hours shaping images out of earthen materials. This room is my temporary sanctuary. It is where I allow many hours of lip silence to pass as I explore thought wormholes and mind trappings, a.k.a. I am learning to “meditate.”
I find an inner passage to myself beyond any frontier previously known to me within these moments of deeply focused concentration.
I discover how my being goes from silence to cacophony within the flash of a moment.
I learn I am way more than the shell of my body… and for this I am deeply relieved.
I use my concentration practice to get me through the painful hours of a needle pumping toxic chemicals into my body to rid my cells of a disease that has overtaken the upper part of my body.
I use the inner passage as a way to remain calm. I am learning yogic practices of the mind and soul. I am unknowingly finding my way to my own tomorrow.
Forward almost another decade, I am sitting on a gym floor waiting for my first asana class at San Francisco State University to begin. This is my fifth and final college, for the completion of my undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies. A gentle-man with long, gray hair enters the large space where we all sit in one corner on top of blankets (yoga mats were just being made) .
My first official asana practice led by Mr. Lar Caughlan, in the early 90s, fed my intrigue with this path called yoga. Once my class with Lar ended I sought out classes across the city of San Francisco dappling into the few offerings at the time. It was the beginning of my embracing yet another branch of the yogic tree.
Fast forward to 1999, the sun has yet to rise and I sit with other students, from all over the world, in our new white outfits. A banana leaf cupped in each of our hands holds an offering of fruit, money and other items for the senior teacher who is to about to entrust each of us with a mantra. Around us the jungles of South India sound off with the morning – birds awakening, creatures stirring (lions across the lake), and the large green leaves in the trees above us rustling slightly. I am living on an ashram, a spur of the moment decision amongst my loose plans for my two months traveling about Nepal and India. (Intrigued? Obtain more info. about this decision in my memoir, Inspired to Live.) Today I will receive a mantra to be used the rest of my life as a prayer for my deepest wishes for the world within and without myself. And at the end of this month I will be a yoga teacher.
The next decade and a half is filled with multiple teaching venues, a wide range of students, and the continual growth of my own teaching style. I discover other forms of yoga to add to my repertoire (e.g. Anusara). I even venture into opening a studio where I teach among multiple elements – on the earth, in the air, in the water and on stand up paddleboards (even created a practice manual to be used on the board.
Almost forty years after I’ve been encountered practices associated with this vast world called yoga…
I still have so many questions when I hear of new forms of yoga emerging.
I feel/hear inquiries within myself still emerging to understand what yoga is.
I waiver between my confidence in knowing yoga and then thinking I know “nada.”
So I have been talking with folks about my inquires.. and have decided to turn my journey into the yogic realm into yet another direction. Deeply inquiring out loud (blogging) about the prospect of living a “yogic” lifestyle in our modern world.
How is this done?
Who do you have to be to fulfill this?
Where must you expend your energy to live in this realm?
What are the absolute essentials we each must do in order to feel we are a yogi/ini?
Why even bother?
I would love your thoughts, opinions, observations, requests, and anything else you are prompted to share as you go on this journey with me.