It’s 5 o’clock in the evening and the thermometer gauge on our front door tells me it’s 10 degrees celsius. The last light is hanging on to leaves in the trees in our yard, and the wind picks up a blended whiff of lavender, rosemary and budding spring flowers in the southern hemisphere... another cloudless sunny day in the Blue Mountains coming to a close.
It’s been almost a year since we packed up our little bungalow in Chiang Mai, left our idyllic much-ado-about-nothing Thai life behind to pursue other life opportunities in Australia. Packing, moving, unpacking, adjusting, house hunting, furnishing a new home, celebrating, mourning, holding on, letting go, accepting, resisting, surrendering… There were times when it felt like I would bump my head into every corner I turned, and every shimmer in the distance felt like an ad nauseum joke to trick me into thinking there was light at the end. The past 12 months has challenged me in ways I had never imagined. It forced me to show up each day when I just wanted to pull the blanket over my head and stay there for eternity. It pushed me to look really hard at how I could possibly grow as a human being, if I can truly be authentic and resilient.
I looked everywhere for answers but none came close to satisfying my cerebral mind. The heat from the summer dissipated, the leaves changed colours and fell to the ground, flooding our front porch with shades of brown. The ceaseless rumination followed me through the cold misty winter. I found myself clinging on to mere shreds of hope… till my mind gave up, and so did my body. In June, I battled a debilitating winter fever, a severe virus infection, and a toxic migraine. I crouched in front of the heater trying to warm my bones in futile, breathing hurt my ribs, any mental activity shot spasms into my skull. I prayed for an easier way out...
I came through the other side 10 days later, I felt a little lighter, my vision a little clearer, and a little voice telling me to just put one foot in front of the other, that life is still happening, and living needs to be done.
Onwards, I set out on my next round of teaching engagements back in the warmer climates of Asia, along with Frank my skeletal companion. Though I was still weak from the recovery, I knew I would be nourished by doing what I love, meeting new people and reconnecting with old students. However, I was as excited as I was nervous, because things were different this time round. My body has changed, my life experiences have thrown me curve balls, my understanding on the practice of yoga as a healing tool has morphed into an approach that is no longer about fitness and the best selling yoga high.
No longer armoured with a bag of tricks labeled “the Universal Principles of Alignment”, I decided to relinquish the handstands, the backbends, the rip-roaring hip openers… for seemingly goal-less somatic practices: spending hours uncovering breath patterns in the body, observing how our feet are turned, sensing our viceral organs, moving from our kidneys… we only work on processes, no peak poses, no quick fixes, no sweat-induced endorphins from copious amount of contortions and gravity defying postures… and no straight answers.
The late Sri TKV Desikachar said to “Look at our relationships” when taking stock of our progress in the practice of the living tradition called Yoga.
I told my students we are doing this so we can understand our underlying conditioning and holding patterns, investigating through our own relationships with our body & mind, so we can form relationships within the environment we inhabit in - both macro & micro. I explained that when we can inquire into the Why, the How's and What's and When's and Where's will fall into place.
7 weeks of presenting relational inquiries from Laos to Singapore to Vietnam, via translations in some settings, in as much as I could give justice to the language of embodiment in English. I jumped through hoops and stumbled on hurdles. I needed to convince others as much as myself on this quest for truth, so I kept refining my approach as I soldiered on, sitting in hotel beds poring over teaching notes, reflecting on feedback, making changes to sequences, language, timing, and then laying out the mat to practice till its time to head into class again…
Upon my return back to Australia, I went straight into the next module of Yoga Therapy training in Sydney. As much as I was exhausted from teaching, I wasn’t sure whether I was quite ready to spend 2 weeks being a full-time student. My body yearned for rest, my head felt like there was no room left for anymore input…
If “synchronicity” was the best thing that a fatigued person needed for a boost, then it happened on that first day of the training - stark in bold on the projector screen that morning - “We as yoga therapists require - radical humility, an open, inquisitive mind, and a high threshold for divine insecurity.”
Our work begins when we inquire into our intuitive hearts, within which there are no assumptions, no projections, no pre-conceptions, no thoughts. We are a clear channel as therapists / teachers - we hold a space where change is permitted to permeate, in its moment to moment preciousness. We offer a haven through our wholehearted listening, we embody humility by showing up fully - because authentic expression comes from witnessing the cosmic play of light and shadow.
As I settle back into life in the Blue Mountains this spring, I hold within me a divine knowing that I’m on the right track - that our measuring device lies not in the answers we seek but in our courage to give up certainty. When we surrender to the sanctity of all our sacred relationships with life, we can tap into the immense power of our own healing - peel the blanket off of our face, and let the light in...
Furthering my study and work in somatic education & Yoga Therapy, I hope you can join me on my next sojourn - Moving from Within, in the last quarter of 2017 & beginning of 2018.
Immersions / Retreats
November 7 to 12: Yoga & Bodywork as Therapeutics Foundations (24-hours CEU), Yogarden, Koh Samui, Thailand
January 22 to 28: Yoga & Bodywork as Therapeutics Teacher Training (50 hours CEU), Luang Prabang, Laos
November 17 to 19: Yoga Therapeutics Applications: Working with Chronic Pain & Injuries (12 hours CEU), Yangon Yoga House, Myanmar
November 25 to 26: Moving from Within: Inquiry, Embodied Anatomy, Bodywork (10 hours CEU), Wild Rose Yoga, Chiang Mai, Thailand
December 3 to December 15: Private Bodywork & Yoga Therapy Sessions, Singapore
December 8 to 10: Yoga Therapeutics Applications (25 hours CEU), Outta Hatha Yoga, Singapore
Stay tuned for more details!
“As we increase our knowledge of ourselves, we increase in understanding and compassion for others.”
~ Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, founder of Body Mind Centering®
Registered Yoga Therapist, Somatic Movement Educator, Bodyworker, Yoga Teacher Trainer