I’ll start with a disclaimer first: I’m not a true yogi, nor do I live a yogic lifestyle. I would describe myself as someone who dabbles in yoga.
My friend Ali from London has done a few yoga retreats with Shanti Centre (http://www.shanticentre.com). When she called me up last year and said “want to go do yoga in Sri Lanka”, all I heard was “let’s go travel”. Here I am February 2016 in Boossa, Sri Lanka doing yoga with an instructor that I never took a class from, nor did I read up on her style of yoga. Those of you who know me well, in my personal life I jump in with both feet with little research – it’s worked out well for me so far. I like surprises and I often learn something valuable!
Let’s rewind to day one of Sri Lanka yoga retreat, it’s 93 degrees, 80% humidity and mosquitos – none of which I handle well. I liked Steph (the yoga instructor) as soon as I met her, she’s warm, caring and has a constant glow about her. We started our class laying down in sivasana, in my mind I’m thinking who starts their class this way. I was confused but accepted this because I could hardly move in the heat. Maybe Steph forgot to teach the class and thought it was sivansana time, I’m in awe of what my mind things of at times. I noticed I started criticizing Steph’s teaching right away in my mind – I didn’t recognize the chant she started the class with? why are her moon salutations different than other instructors I practiced with? Why aren’t we doing any balancing poses? Why aren’t we getting into pigeon pose from down dog? So much for letting go and enjoying the present moment. We are creatures of habits, I’ve been going to the same yoga studio for a few years and practicing the same style of yoga. Looking back, I had the best sleep in months the night after Steph’s first yoga class.
It was end of the 3rd day I realized why I was hard on Steph’s teaching, she taught Hatha and I had a bad experience with Hatha yoga 5 years ago in India. There is nothing wrong with Hatha, mentally I was in a bad place when I signed myself into a yoga ashram in Kerala, India. I had gone to India in high hopes to get in touch with the ‘motherland’ and have a spiritual awakening – I spent 5 months in India and neither of my goals in India were fulfilled. Once I realized why I wasn’t fully present in Steph’s class, I told myself that I cannot let my experience 5 years ago taint my time with Steph. I was in Sri Lanka on a private beach doing yoga with an instructor who poured her soul into her teaching, the least I could do was be fully present! If Steph is giving 100%, I owe her 100% also.
We often experience the world thru our stained experience, not seeing the experience as it is. In Vipassana meditation we hope to bring clarity and seeing the reality as it truly is without judgement. I thoroughly enjoyed Steph’s yoga retreat in Sri Lanka, more than the yoga I have to thank Steph for providing clarity and showing me when I judge I’m only restricting my own enjoyment, growth and pleasure.