Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Keepin' it Real - and a Grateful Heart

It happens every time. 
I go in to the class without expectations - only knowing that the class is going to be warm and that we usually start with subtle, small movements either on our backs or in a seated posture. Before other classes, I might warm up my spine and my hips a little bit....because at this stage in my yogic journey, I know my body well enough to know how to warm it up before I try challenging poses.  But when I go to Theresa's class, I know she's got that covered. 
Theresa Murphy that is.  Then she begins.  I mean, she begins...talking.  (This is part of the "it" I mentioned at the beginning.) Many teachers (myself included) begin class with some kind of "centering" which may include breathing, focusing your attention into one-pointedness some way or another, finding an intention for the class, which is all well and good.  This is a great way to get the mind cleared of extraneous thoughts, come to the here-and-now, and to be open in mind, body, spirit for your yoga asana practice.  Then there's Theresa who speaks from a place not only of deep knowledge and experience of this practice, but a profound space of intuition.  I've always known, or felt rather, that intuition is more intelligent than knowledge.  You know those people who have the "gift of the gab" but at the end of the conversation you have no idea what was just said?  With Theresa, the opposite is true. One sentence makes me feel like I've just been on a pilgrimage. 
Sometimes she will talk at the beginning and throughout class about a physical attribute such as a specific muscle group that we might be working on for the day, "Reaching through the webbing of our fingertips," or "those small muscles on the sides of the gluteus that we rarely pay enough attention to."  Other times her class themes are more abstract though in a way that I can only describe as ethereal. Today she spoke of "letting go of the "holding on" of the thoughts and actions that make us separate from each other, the environment and the space around us, and instead being with the present moment as a blissful connection to all that surrounds us."
I promise I didn't get that quote exactly right.  In fact, there shouldn't even really be quotation marks around it.  I'm not able to articulate the eloquence with which she rolls words out of her mouth, from that intuitive place inside her, that truly allows you, the student, to feel safe, connected, and like you were put on this earth to do great things....and of course to come to Theresa's class every week.
The class begins slow, as I mentioned, and you roll through the class not even for a moment being able to guess what might come next.  In some flow classes and other types of asana (posture) classes, there seems to be a predictable rhythm at times, going through seated postures, standing poses, twists, etc.  In Theresa's there is a delicious mystery at every turn.  Sometimes this mystery is in the form of a crescent-lunge twist where your armpit is guided further towards your knee than you ever thought possible.  Sometimes it's in the shape of Supta Virasana, a pose which for me has always been excruciating to the knees, but with Thersa's guidance of "scooping your belly hollow like a canoe" and "using your core more than you ever have before" and "letting your kidneys and tailbone fall away from each other," somehow I melt into the pose over a bolster like silk draped over a cushy French chaise.
By the end of the class, many times holding some kind of "peak pose" that I never thought I'd be capable of achieving, I always have some kind of breakthrough. This could be in the form of more open hips, a fuller heart, or something bigger like an easeful backbend or a light and strong handstand.  I often go home after her class and sit in silence, feeling a sense of growth and accomplishment all in one, sometimes going over the poses or the subtle movements in my head, hoping that somewhere in my body, I've retained her teachings. 
Then it happens again. That "it" I was telling you about.  This "it" has happened to me after weekend-long yoga trainings or hours-long workshops, or when I've been in the presence of "big name" yoga or meditation teachers after long moments of meditation.  This feeling of utter peace.  This feeling of gratitude.  This glimpse of spiritual enlightenment.  Her words settle on a place in my heart that reminds me that I am in a place of comfort, that I am in a place of holy, and that I am in the right place, on this journey of mine, on this journey of ours, at the right time.  This feeling of connectedness with all beings.
Theresa has a classy and articulate way of addressing world occurrences and relating them to our yoga practice. Today she referenced the awful shootings at the South Carolina church and told us a story of a Master who was asked by one of his students after one of the atomic bombs was dropped in WWII, "What kind of  heart-mind would be able to create such a thing of destruction and hurt?" The Master replied, "The kind of mind that says, 'I like this, but I don't like that."  She suggested again that we "let go of the "holding on" of the thoughts and actions that make us separate from each other," and once again, I felt a deep sense of knowing...a deep sense of...Theresa.
At the end of class we sit upright on our sits-bones and sound that universal sound of peace: one single Om.  I am always the last to leave class. I sit there for a moment, letting it all sink in.  I want to tell her all these things that I feel, every single class, but I'm never sure how to put it into words, so I sit, in gratitude, and hope she feels my grateful, emanating heart. 

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