Yoga and Great Relief

Today was the first day of my new yoga teaching gig at the Studio on Glover Street in the heart of  Downtown Twisp.  I was pretty psyched about it.  Expectant.  I had my people post flyers around town and had announced it on FaceBook.  The Studio added the class to its Web page.  It seemed like everything was in place.

My beautiful Beloved and I arrived at 9:45 so I could set the bhav or attitude for the room.  I had brought a small picture of my guru, Amma, and turned on the yoga playlist on my iPhone.  Then I stood by the door to wait.

it reminded me faintly of the old days when I gave parties, and I would ask some friends to gather a little early to keep me company while I waited to see if anyone was going to come. If the house and food and drink and music would magically transform into the alchemy of “party.”  Which in the complicated mathematics of the self equals “success .”

As I stood by the door this morning gazing through the red sheer curtain that screens the studio from the street, I felt that old worry. And it metabolized as disappointment. The hands on my watch swept slowly and inexorably toward ten o’clock. My Beloved sat meditating on her mat.

I felt a wash of old uncomfortable feelings: disappointment, unworthiness, embarrassment. At the same time, I remembered when I started teaching the yoga class I’ve taught in Philly for seven years. How many Thursday mornings I felt like the old Maytag repairman, waiting for someone to show up and leaving after half a hour when it was clear that no one would. Or one person would come and how long it took me to feel comfortable with that.

Developing a following takes time, especially being the new yogi in town. My Beloved sat serenely waiting for me to start. I sat on my cushion and closed my eyes and said the words I have said nearly every Thursday for the last three years that I’ve been teaching Yoga for Great Relief: we’ll start with a short closed eye meditation followed by gazing and then I’ll make a few comments and open up for sharing.

The meditation did its usual magic bringing me a deep sense of Being, and the gazing brought us into a communion. It drew me into the font of consciousness, the gateless entrance to what is.

When I began to speak, it was of the feelings that were alive in me, the percolating and shifting flow of those old familiar feelings. Speaking transformed them and cast them in the light of Wisdom.

Being human means being hard wired for self-preservation. And yet, this essential system often becomes our default, a pattern in which we keep our selves coiled in contraction as a way to keep safe from what might cause hurt. Being human means constantly surfing the edge between the finite and the infinite. That requires awareness. How does it feel now? Can I be with that? And Hatha yoga gives us a chance to cultivate and deepen that awareness.

And so we began. Breath, movement, effort and relaxation. And by the end, as we sat quietly after chanting to seal in the practice, I was home again in the great relief that this practice offers. Resting in Trust in Being.