Since I am on a roll, thinking about my teachers, and because some of you have asked me about teacher training, I thought it would helpful to post a poem I wrote for Francois at the completion of the Essential Teacher Training of Open Sky Yoga in Rochester NY. A link to his monthly newsletter is on Laughing Yogini’s Article Recommendations page.
A Little Light At the End of the Day
Silently we crept to the opening circle
in the hall where Buddha
in padmasana beamed larger than life
and the big blue bell hung
over the stairwell. Trying to look calm,
we were so nervous that when asked
to name our favorite movie, we could
barely find a voice. Yet, when we sang
OM, the sound grew like a great wind
Our broken bodies,
over-fired minds, erratic emotions,
and our simple spirits fell
into your cupped palms-
the wonder of us all made you pause-
and the snow kept shifting
out of the great open sky.
Some days fluttered by
some days the sweet movement of our bodies
defining space in this world became easy-
our limbs flew off our spines-
then you’d say,
“I’m not convinced of that,”
so we’d push harder against old patterns
until collapsing from the effort,
laughing at our little limitations.
While explaining some detail
of lordosis, or deep fascia release,
or the way sandbags can help vata,
your gray eyes would scan the room
trying not to betray your disappointment
that half of us were watching the snow drift,
the other half fluttering eyelids close to sleep.
We were hungry students:
you fed us ginger crisps, blue chips, and oranges;
we’d slip out to Java Joe’s
before class, beg for breaks
long enough to linger,
lunch on foccaccia, pita pockets,
or granola from Montana Mills.
It was never enough.
Talking asana, doshas and gunas,
pranayama, then shifting topics
to father ghosts, wedding dresses,
Van Morrison, or the Dalai Lama,
we were ravenous for so much more than bread.
You taught us to nurture ourselves
Not always the best of students,
but with our journals, mountains of texts,
home practice assignments fit for BKS himself,
we eventually learned something
about long steady exhalations
and how our own breath
can deepen any given moment.
We will take these lessons with us:
flexibility, patience, strength, humor;
others we’re still working on,
such as teaching in the first person;
many lessons we won’t “get”
for a long long time-
but when we’re standing in front of a class,
stumbling over words
your voice will drift in,
“description, not prescription”
and we’ll set to work once again.
Winter’s snows blew into April and melted.
Now, sunlight plays on the maple;
the magnolia’s ripe leaves hang dappled,
and the new fence gate swings open
without a sound.
We gather once again finding joy, steadiness.
And when our lives bloom
crazy and humble,
we’ll remember a cedar room
where white candles glimmer
in a sand bed,
where pale shells lie rearranged
with a great deal of lovingkindness,
and your voice channeling
through us, holding
us in a firm embrace.