One of my favorite lessons from this training: People who hurt you are doing you a favor. I struggled with this one. A lot. As a very sensitive person by nature, I’ve learned that I truly can’t control feeling hurt sometimes, and therefore should just accept it, respect it and learn through it. I struggled with the notion that these people are helping me. They don’t want to help me, I thought. They want to hurt me. Well … maybe. Maybe not. It calls to mind the overarching theme of our coursework, to quote the late great Anaïs Nin, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Yes. I am seeing everything through my very own unique matrix of colors, chakras, sheaths and more. We are unique spiritual beings, as our mala bracelet design and spiritual Donna Christensen, 200-RYT, told us. So … it doesn’t matter what their intentions are – if they are trying to hurt me or not – I choose to decide how I will receive it. And it truly is a gift when someone points out to you exactly how what you’re putting out there is impacting them. As long as you don’t attach to it, and don’t “take it personally” to use a more familiar parlance, you can learn from it and continue to grow.
My downward dog is forever changed, due to acknowledging my very wide carrying angle. Jessa Voos, owner of Orange Sky Yoga in Manhattan, Kansas, floored us all with her anatomical expertise in yoga, dramatically changing our asana practice. Her yoga teachers are modern masters, including anatomical yogic expert Jason Crandell. Jessa intimately knows the mechanics of the stress and injuries that occur from poses done consistently incorrectly. She knows injury well and can foretell it in poses on-sight. She advises against prioritizing a deep stretch at the risk of overtaxing our bodies. She also emphasizes strength. I’ve never felt the strength – before or since (granted, I've been slacking a bit lately) – than I did after the weekend she led us through a strenuous outdoor summer vinyasa series. Many of our bodies and poses changed that weekend. And my downward dog is still wide. My palms are nearly off my mat – and it feels great. I'd planned to launch a wide-mat manufacturing venture, but of course it's already been done, so I quickly abandoned the thought.
We all enjoyed an introduction to chair yoga with Susan Turnage, RN, CY, E-RYT-200, RYT-500 – a certified yoga nurse. The work that she is doing in chair yoga is astounding, as one by one, she helps people who struggle with the most basic of movements, and it’s changing their lives. She has heard from her students who had an extremely small range of motion at the onset of class that their limits are changing. She's helping people improve their health through discovering the joy – and relief – of movement and breath work. While doing so, she travels to some pretty adventurous areas of Richmond to meet her clientele, many of whom she introduces to yoga for the very first time with a chair class. Since this course, I have seen my employer, S&P Global Market Intelligence, offer a chair yoga class to a huge audience of my colleagues across the world in India. I was quite pleased to see this in my workspace.
Now, Liz White, RYT-200. I swear she's a saint, and she's begged to differ, but we are all convinced that at the very least, she is getting younger with each breath. She has an incredible story that left us in awe of her, along with her grace and enormous breadth of knowledge. We hung on her every word. And rounding out our strong cast of instructors was Jen Pinto, RYT-200, who has a strong wealth of knowledge in anatomy thanks to a family full of chiropractors.
Our final trip to Yogaville solidified the bond for me with my new yogi sisters (we missed you, Kendra!). Talking to each other in our sleep (sometimes cursing), counting the minutes for the contraband café to open up with real coffee, and getting in trouble for giggling during the evening reception … these moments will stay with me. And I often think about my fellow yogis, what they’re doing, and the amazing things they have yet to do! Sandy Layman is already leading a meditative drumming class at Studio South on Sunday evenings. Our resident anatomy expert and physical therapist Shiela DiNunzio is already drawing up designs for her yoga company’s logo. Heather Sellers is following her nursing roots to explore y4c – yoga for cancer. Lauren Duguay is developing a customized yoga program for CrossFit 1607 in Williamsburg. Air Force oboist Grace Huntoon has already taught a yoga class to 45 of her coworkers! Christine Imperial is now a veteran barre instructor, and Mackenzie Reilly has already begun her graduate school training to become a yoga therapist. I’m not sure what the yoga journey will bring next for me, but I am happy that I have met my personal goals for this training. And I’m so happy thinking about the myriad ways so many lives will change because of these women in a very positive way … those mentioned above as well as Tracy Cantara, Olivia Tullo, Elizabeth Ellis, Hannah Luker, Lindsey Thorpe, Iwona Kakareko, Kendra Popelka, Alissa Foulis, Candice Kehayes, Georgie Darrah and Josephine Tyler.