It's June 21st- Summer Solstice, international yoga day (I guess this is a real thing? I need to get out more!) and it's also day 5 of the 2017 Himalayan Institute 200-hour yoga teacher training. the Pennsylvania campus is the world headquarters and the HI has multiple campuses worldwide.
We are resting before supper time on a grassy hillside that overlooks hundreds of acres of Pennsylvanian wilderness. The crows and songbirds are abundant and summer weather has finally arrived.
The campus here ebbs and flows with human activity. It's typically something like a yogic beehive on weekends when extra programs are offered. It relaxes down to a peaceful, rhythmic buzz during the weekdays. There is a beautiful blend of seekers from all parts of the planet, and on any given day you will sense this worldly energy. Many languages, many lifestyles, many faces... all sharing one consciousness. The thread that weaves the diversity together is a seeking for higher truth. A greater understanding of existence. A longing for personal freedom, beginning deep inside.
There are 17 of us teachers-in-training and just two are gentlemen. One of them is Tanner and the other is a very cheerful and kind young man from India. Age ranges from mid-20's to nearly 70 years wise.
The approach and execution that this organization has designed for their students is like nothing I have encountered elsewhere. I spent a very challenging, transformative and dynamic 6 months here at the HI way back in 2003, at age 21. Over the last 14 years I have made massive changes to my own way of being and interacting with life, inside and outside. Yoga has supported me through it all. Many who have not experienced the breadth of yoga have a perception that it is simply an hour of stepping onto a mat and folding and stretching, and of course, wearing the fanciest yoga pants available. (Ok. I'm wearing my new tie-dyed leggings today...but seriously...)
The mat practice is just one slice out of the yoga pie.
The hatha or asana practice is like the bait that seems to attract the student with a stealth ninja-like cunning. It seems like a fold and a twist and a one-legged balance. But then...one day...something happens. A feeling. An awareness that wasn't there before. What was that? Did anyone else in the class feel that shift? Hmmm. Maybe there's more to this whole yoga thing.
A different instructor leads our 6:45am hatha class each morning. The variety of styles of teaching is fabulous. Today I was moved to tears by the woman who led the class. The words that she spoke while she lead us through a sequence of postures and contemplation were connecting to a place so deep within my yet so infinitely vast.
I proceeded to eat my breakfast alone and just sit with what had transpired. I realized that I have not felt moved or inspired to this level in recent months. My inner light grew three sizes today.
At the conclusion of today's afternoon anatomy session, we were invited to share our personal shifts that have been a result of following our own yoga practices. I wanted to say many things, but what I ended up sharing was that I was so grateful to have discovered the yogic path nearly 15 years ago, and that it has been the foundation of me cultivating a knowing of deep inner peace. No matter where I am, or what is happening around me, there is an anchor deep within. Nothing outside of me has even come close to the inner guru that each of us has and is, if only we choose to hear the whispers of the guru. I've seen a saying that says "go within or go without". Everything (and I mean everything) outside of us is only superficial and temporarily soothing or comforting tool. The infinite wisdom is waiting inside of us. Patiently. With love and compassion for our humanness to discover it. Namaste. Yup. I said it. And I meant it, too.