Sunday, November 6, 2011

We just got back from an overnight in a small town a couple hours up the coast from our house. Another beautiful ocean town. I taught 2 workshops and Patrick saw 4 bodywork clients. It was fun to be their first visiting yoga teacher. Many of the students had never done a yoga workshop so we started with the fundamentals of Anusara Yoga. I love teaching the basics and opening people's minds and hearts with the power of the alignment and Tantric philosophy. I talked a lot about Opening to Grace; opening our senses and being more receptive and sensitive to our inner energy and to the energy around us.

So it was auspicious that there was a blind student there with her hearing-impaired husband. I was inspired watching her navigate through my instructions using only her senses of hearing and feeling and the occasional whisper from her husband. She was definitely practicing being receptive! Luckily she is a regular yoga student so she knows the basic form of the poses. Since I'm so dedicated to clarity in my communication, I loved the challenge of having to articulate the details of what to do with the body. She would certainly show me when I was not clear by following exactly what I said, not what I meant or showed. She never got frustrated or upset and her teacher was always ready to dive in when needed.

Although I've read and watched films about people with visual impairments, I have never had an extremely visually-impaired student before, nor have I had an acquaintance or friend in my life who could not see. It has me pondering again what it must be like to live in the darkness, to rely so heavily on hearing and other senses to interpret what is happening, and on others to explain what they see. I wonder what it's like to have those senses heightened so much to make up for sight. I suppose it's a form of Opening to Grace, of really opening to What Is around you in the moment (especially in public spaces), and tuning in acutely in ways the rest of us can't even imagine.

This ability to tune in differently with the eyes closed is why I often ask my students to close their eyes during various times in the practice. I love the way it takes them into heightened receptivity; they feel their energy vibrating, their heart beating, the movement of their breath and the sensations in their bodies in ways they don't tend to notice with their eyes open.

May we all appreciate this great gift of sight and may we also remember to allow our other senses to teach us about the present moment and to help us Open to Grace.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Samhain.  This is the Celtic festival of endings and new beginnings. It's the end of Harvest season and the beginning of going inwards for winter.  It is said that the veil between the worlds (this one and "other" worlds) is thin at this time of year, October 31 and November 1.  And therefore, it's a great time to put out prayers to the Spirit realm, especially for your hopes and dreams for new beginnings. It's also a great time to connect with the spirit of those who've passed from this lifetime as they're more likely to "hear" you.

It was fun for me to teach on this for the first time last night.  I could really feel it in the room.  We had a small group because of Halloween. When we started, there was tremendous activity out on the Arcata Plaza as all the little kiddies and their parents were Trick or Treating in costume around the plaza shops.  There was also a live band on the grass.  And yet in our classroom above the mayhem, we felt the absence of many missing students and the impending darkness and quiet after the festivities that ended shortly after we began.

I told the students about Samhain and asked them to consider anyone who's passed who they wanted to offer their practice to, or any prayers they wanted to send out for this new season.  I talked about how yoga makes us more sensitive; more aware of our selves and each other and the other energies in our environment.  So clairvoyance is a natural gift that some have, but I believe we can all develop it through our practice.  And especially at this window of the year, we may be able to see more clearly, to sense energy and to engage with it.  So we practiced opening our senses and tuning in and making prayers and offerings. 
The intention in the room was palpable.