When fireflies lit my path…
It’s a magical place, lit by fire flies and sprinkled with pixie dust. It’s an earthy place, made up of rocky facades and woody lanes. It’s a real place filled with real people living real lives. It was a dreamy place borne out of a unique madness and passion. My one month in Nrityagram and how it wrote stories in my mind and heart.
It was in the ochre earth that seeped into the crevices of cracked, tired feet, it was in the sweet aroma of the blossoms that lined cobble stoned pathways to our classes, it was in the cold, cold water that we splashed on our gleaming faces after a long day, it was in the graceful forms of dancers practicing every day, hours at end to perfect a two minute sequence, regardless of the presence of an audience, it was in the passion of the teachers who by their chosen life paths, illuminated ours without meaning to, it was in the vision of one woman continuing to be brought to fruition by other brilliant and talented women.
It was everywhere, this quest for excellence, this rejection of the mediocre. And I find it has changed my teaching and practice of yoga. I have waited for some time to internalize the degree of the impact of this immersive experience, for the initial euphoria of learning and expansion eventually peters out in the mundaneness of everyday life. This learning can never be quantified and measured, for it is intangible for the most part. The learning has been around expected outcomes of the physical self and rather unexpected manifestations on personality and lifestyle,both influencing the way I work and how I think about my work.
As a yoga teacher, I am all about alignment. The right one for your body, where you will feel the stretch and the burn, without causing harm. I have now learned that being aligned with all my senses and experiences is as important as linking muscle, bone, ligament and tissue. Everyday we woke up to classical music, were around spaces aesthetically in tune with the purpose and the vision of the people living in it, we thought and talked about dance, and this immersion helped us to get the ethos and the energy of what we wanted to learn and be. Odissi dancers. One can internalize learning if there is an intense need, an urgent pull to do so, and this intense need can find form in the space around it. Find your passion and look for ways to fill your time, space and energy with it. We learn by osmosis, subconsciously and consciously. De clutter your space, mental and physical, and fill it with elements and energy that feed into your goal rather than take you from it.
Accept limitations with grace. Yes, one can be passionate and work hard, but there are limitations of the physical and the psychological level that sometimes one cannot surpass. At 42, and not having been in touch with classical dance, I had a huge learning curve, the challenges of learning something new and unlearning all the old posed daunting obstacles a few times, and yet made me feel very alive! I then realized, yes, I can’t do many things any more but in the trying and the learning, there is a joy, a seeking, a quest that can change and transform both within and without. And this as a yoga teacher, has huge implications for modifying for diverse body types, abilities and experiences, choosing words with more care, sequencing so there is an element of grace in the movement and challenging students just enough so they feel alive and vibrant on the mat. For most of us, the mediocrity is in the attempt rather than the outcome!
Spice it up! Yes! Discipline and consistency is paramount to learning, but when one learns from diametrically opposite personalities and styles, the learning is multi dimensional, layered and nuanced. Look for people and concepts and experiences that will challenge, question, push, support you in your path. Look for people who will teach you startlingly different things from each other. I went to learn and immerse myself in a new dance form, but have emerged from it with renewed vigor and zest, an expected outcome some would say, but it’s colored with shades of experience and age, so it’s that much more special and necessary.
What I have learned is we need fireflies and pixie dust as much as we need sunshine and water, to thrive. To live with passion. So here’s to you finding your magical, real place. The place can be some space that you create with intention and effort and energy within your home, or some time you carve out for learning and growth or go on adventures far and wide. And yes it’s a luxury, and if we can get the time and resource, grab it with both hands and take big gulps, for it will go a long way.