I remember the day in New York when I was in the led class with Guruji very clearly. It was nearly 11 years ago. I had been practicing Ashtanga for a few years and I had recently come home from a business trip where I hurt my back and had to go to the ER to get my muscles to relax. I had an x-ray and was sent home with a prescription for Valium and Percocet. No diagnosis, just that my lumbar spine was pretty flat and what they did for me should relax the muscles that would not release. I was practicing in my hotel room and threw my back out when I mindlessly threw my legs up for headstand. It was very painful and I knew nothing of why this would happen or how to get back. When I got back to my home studio I actually wrote my teacher and told him I was going to take some time off. Basically I was going to do restorative and spend my time, money and energy in restorative sessions with another master teacher.
I did not want to quit but I was in pain. My Ashtanga teacher at the time was pretty fixed on regular practice and that the practice can heal you. The way I understood what he told me was that my issues may be something with the emotional body and that I may be holding onto some past trauma. I was taught to trust in something bigger than myself and to respect the primary series. I don’t think you can teach someone to have faith however my teacher who had a ton of faith in the practice, influenced me. He went onto explain to me that I needed to understand that it is a big practice and that I would have to ease back in slowly. This to me was not how I did things when I first started. I did not really know how to do things less than 100%. I had to learn and I continued. Also practicing the led class in the city seemed like a big deal and although I was hesitant, I went.
Fast forward to today. As usual, I started my day in the Mysore room at AYM teaching. I dressed, but then I thought to myself, where is that shirt? Something was pulling me to find it. I dug around and found it. It’s a shirt that says, “Guruji lives here” across the chest. Later in the day I was sitting in my car and saw Eagle’s post about Guruji and the dates. I did not know that today is the anniversary of Guruji’s passing and I looked down at my shirt and smiled. Charles Secallus encouraged me to practice with Pattabhi in NYC those 11 years ago and I am forever grateful and feel blessed to have ventured on the path and to have had that opportunity to meet him. Since those days, I have met so many wonderful lineage holders of this tradition over the years and each one has left an impression on me that I carry in my heart. They say that all who practice this tradition carry Guruji in their heart. Practicing Ashtanga yoga is the tool that has helped me in the best and worst of times. Today I pause and am grateful to the practice, the way he taught it and all the seeds he planted who have turned into some pretty awesome teachers and lineage holders. Thank you Guruji for giving me my voice through all I have learned and continue to learn and a practice that will keep unfolding. Keep moving, keep breathing and do your practice. “Practice and all is coming”-Pattabhi Jois