Yoga & Me

My earliest memories of anything to do with yoga (circa 1958) are tangled up with my curiosity about India. As a child,  I spent a lot of time in the local libraries. There still exists in my mind pictures of seriously thin foreign turbaned half-naked men photographed in weird positions!  All things “Indian” appealed to me.    It’s been a dream to visit the Taj Mahal and someday I’ll get there.

During my tweens, I stumbled upon the Kama Sutra.  The erotic pictures were intriguing and caused me to consider all that I did not know.    My interest and curiosity about this foreign culture became a steady flame.  Everything  I learned about India  resonated and touched something deep in my soul.

Decades pass.

Circa 1976.

Over time, the Yogi’s of India and their 20th century representatives  continued to capture my attention.  I  borrowed  ” The AutoBiography of a Yogi” from the library and then read it again, and again, and again.      I found a local hatha yoga class which I enjoyed but stopped attending after the initial 6 weeks were over. I had just delivered my second child and I needed something to do for myself so I could remain a healthy, conscious, Mom.  I had joined the class looking for meditation, which in my young mind was the same thing.  I didn’t want to stretch my body. My body was exhausted from the pregnancy, delivery, and a rambunctious 5 year old.  I yearned to calm my mind & stretch my consciousness.  The teacher explained to me that I would have to first  learn the asana’s and second, change my diet if I wanted to meditate.  That teacher is still in my heart today and I have a wonderful story to tell about her later. My first two teachers represented the Sivananda lineage.

After those initial 6 weeks, I continued to study and practice  on my own with books and tapes of whatever I could find.  In the late 70’s there weren’t many yoga classes in the sleepy seashore areas of New Jersey.  And yet  I was able to find some wonderful teachers who encouraged my interest in all the different  mystical paths of yogic knowledge.  For years I  joined with many different small groups of people, all of us seekers wanting to expand  consciousness using spiritual methodology & metaphysics.    I meditated and chanted, attended rituals, ceremonies, lectures and healings of many different traditions; Native American, Theosophy,  Wiccan, Sufi, Zen Buddhists, Taoism, Central American Shamanism, Celtic Shamanism.. I loved it all.  A metaphysical and spiritual smorgasbord was available to me in the 70’s & 80’s.

 

Around 1989

I was blessed to discover The School of Practical Philosophy.   Here I was introduced to Vedanta and what today I label Jnana Yoga.  The primary practice was meditation.  Our readings came from the  Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads.  We also practiced Karma Yoga on weekend retreats in the Catskills, by cleaning hardwood appointments and chopping carrots.  During retreat times we had classes on: sanskrit, indian dance, nada yoga, and vedic mathematics. Stretching my mind like this created a physical response and after 6 years of study I was ready to return to hatha yoga.  During this same time I began to study Jyotish, the science of light.   I was solid in my knowledge & understanding of Western Astrology, but now I needed to understand the Vedic system and how it was different.  Those classes took me to Arsha Vidya Gurukulum in Saylorsburg, PA…..  but I digress.

I became inspired by  Kripalu Yoga’s hatha methodology in 1992 and attended classes without pause until 1999 when I participated in Kripalu’s Inner Quest Intensive.  By 2000 I completed my first 200 hours of teacher training.  By the end of 2001, I completed a second 200 hr, and  on track to complete the  500 hr PKYT. The year after that I was certified at eryt-500.   However, teaching yoga as a job, or career, was not a goal.  Having more and more direct experiences of the sacred was.  And, that has all changed now and teaching yoga has become the most fulfilling and enjoyable work I’ve ever had.   It’s been quite a journey and one that I want to write more about. With the added benefits and blessings that come from astrological guidance and knowledge,  I am able to see my life and my journey within the larger  cosmic context.  This frame of reference has helped me to navigate chaos & crisis and stay committed to a higher purpose.  I am grateful.

Today, I have a small studio that I consider to be more of a laboratory than a ‘yoga studio’. Since 2002,  hundreds of students have come thru the door looking for something that maybe yoga could fulfill.  Many students from my very first-ever classes are still with me, and I have had the honor of introducing yoga to many. I’ve expanded my teaching to include yoga therapy and ayurveda and find it a natural extension of the work.  We’re all wanting/needing to be more fully alive, and yoga is a way towards that end.

I continue to be fascinated by the breadth and depth of knowledge that has come thru the Vedic lineage. I honor and respect all the various religions of India that have enlivened these divine principles with a cast of colorful gods & goddesses to help us understand ourselves. And as for those skinny, dark-skinned men that got themselves all twisted up? Thank you! For teaching all of us what is possible once you wake up.

Jai Bhagwan.