I just walked in after my last class of yoga teaching training, finishing a year of one weekend each month devoted to doing yoga, studying anatomy, chopping vegetables while singing kirtan (call and response chanting), puzzling over The Bhagavadita and Yoga Sutras, and talking a lot about how to teach a spiritual practice. While there are many pages I could fill talking about how beautiful it was to be a group of vibrant women covering a wide span of years and to follow the lead our gifted teacher, Gopi Sandal — not to mention coming to experience how Bhakti yoga — the yoga of devotion — unfolded in my life, for now I just want to say something about endings.
All weekend, I knew this was the ending: This particular group of women meeting for 16 hours each month, these places where we met (at Gopi’s home and mostly at the Holiday Inn Express, dubbed the Holy Day Inn), this exact configuration of hotter-than-hell humidity and very large cucumbers and vibrant tomatoes punctuating our meals today, these moments we spent breathing together in Corpse pose or doing Sun Salutations in tandem. There was a bittersweet undercurrent that made our ordinary work together a little shinier, a little sadder, a lot more vivid. I told myself to pay attention to these moments as they unfolded, and such attention also brought to each moment more of its innate weight and greater lightness too. I found myself laughing and crying more easily, resting deeper, stretching further.
At the same time, as we lay in a circle at the end — our heads touching or almost touching in the center of the circle we made — I was also cognizant how this is the beginning of whatever is next: in our individual yoga practices, in our occasional ways we’ll do yoga together, in our connections when we run into each other in the parking lot of the Merc (our local food co-op) or on facebook. Just as yoga itself brings us back to the beginning — the beginning of the breath, the beginning of the open space in the mind when we lift over the steady noise of our thoughts, the beginning of not knowing, and the beginning of knowing in our bones and muscles how to reach past our previous limits and land in new strength and flexibility — so do the passages we make with good company. Together we’ve passed through a year of edges, in the weather, in each other’s lives, in our understandings, in our motions and stillness.
Not so surprisingly, signs of beginnings abound, particularly in seeing the small pea chicks at Gopi’s, just born a few days ago and guarded by a tired but attentive peahen and strutting peacock. All year long, we’ve been enamored with these birds who were very timely with their calls and perching outside the living room window at key points of discussion on yoga philosophy. Now there are more than two of them, including one new one with an injured leg for whom we wish quick healing and easy walking. After all, he’s just at the beginning of his own awakening, and like us, he’s ready to discover what life has to say to him next.
Gopi Sandal’s next teacher training class starts in Sept. — contact her through Bhaktivana Yoga if you’re interested, or just come join me at yoga there sometime. Top photo by Aly Youngster.