Tucson, the land of new beginnings. There came a point in my practice and teaching where I yearned for more. I had been studying with the same few teachers for a long time and I loved them all. They all brought something different to my practice, for sure. However... there was still something missing. I wanted to find some sort of inspiration that would help me deepen my level of commitment and knowledge base of yoga. I wanted to surround myself with teachers who were living their yoga in a profound way. Not to say any of my previous teachers weren't doing that, it was more that I didn't necessarily relate to them on a personal level. There was a missing link.
So I signed up for an immersion with Darren Rhodes and Christina Sell at Yoga Oasis and I showed up in Tucson by myself. At the time Candace Glass was living there and sweetly offered her spare bedroom and bike to me for the week. That was a big reason I could afford to be there, so big thanks to Candace. She and I didn't even know each other yet! The first night, students from the training were invited to Darren's house for an evening of appetizers and setting intentions for the week. I was shocked! I had never been invited to a teacher's home before a training. It seemed so personal. I was super nervous because I had no one to go with and Darren's house is a bit to far (for me) to venture via bike. The lovely studio manager of YO, Rachel King, came to the rescue and invited me to meet up with a few others at the studio and ride with her to the gathering. I remember how fast my heart was beating when I showed up at the studio for the first time, then again when we got to Darren's house.
It was all so new, yet so exciting to be out of my comfort zone. Looking back on that evening, there was quite the important lineup of people present that night in that living room: Alexis Finely, Whitney Lawless, Meg Newlin, Heather Heintz, not to mention Darren & Christina, plus so many more. I didn't talk to any of those folks right away, in fact I didn't talk to many people that night, but the bonds built over time. Going to Tucson for that first training with D & C was clearly a turning point in my life. Its where I met the love of my life. Where I made some of my very best friends. And, where I found my voice as a teacher via seeing my teachers serve as the best example I could imagine. I'm not trying to put Darren & Christina high up on some sort of pedestal or anything, I know that can get tricky for both the student and the teachers. I am just talking about the small things like, they practiced asana over our lunch break during trainings, they referenced their daily meditation practices within lectures and shared their challenges, they only spoke positively about others in a public setting, and most of all... they didn't claim to know it all. In short, they set a really good example of practice. That spoke to me big time.
I spent as much time as possible flying back and forth from St. Louis to Tucson studying with Darren and Christina and spent (literally) hundreds of hours practicing with my new friends there. I signed up for everything they offered: immersions, teacher trainings, new years intensives, more immersions, more teacher trainings... I couldn't get enough. That passion was the exact jump start I was looking for to strengthen my level of commitment. And once I learned to trust good people and commit fully, everything changed. I started treating my friends the way friends should be treated. I started to learn how to use my asana practice as training to handle major challenges off my mat. I began to understand that everything worthwhile takes a whole lot of work. I mended some really important family relationships that continue to serve my life in a major way. And last but certainly not least, I fell in love. Real love. The kind of love that lasts a lifetime. Alexis and met at a potent time for both of us. And given the crucible we were in when that happened, we confidently started our life together and never looked back. The rewards of practice have been sweet, but most of that came from poison and turned to nectar. Meaning, all of these benefits of asana practice didn't come without a lot of failure, tears and really important challenges first. In my experience, the nectar of practice usually comes with a major a test first. In the past, if I failed a test, I would just try another route. At this point in my practice, I started to discover that the same test will continuously reveal itself until I pass. So I amped up my level of effort and once again... commitment.
From that point on, I was in. I got the point that I needed to work hard and focus my effort on what matters, instead of what went wrong. Darren and Christina had presented teachings in a way that I could relate. Those teachings are serving my life for the better every day. On one note, the teachings they passed down from their teacher are fairly simple, "Be with what is, AS IT IS, here and now. Just this." From another perspective, that means I had to learn how to accept things without trying to fix everything. I am into the type of practice that is real. The kind that is tangible and full of hard work. I am into the yoga that makes me strong enough to deal with anything I encounter. The type of practice that makes me work hard and reminds me that I am never finished, never satisfied, yet delighted.
All of this leads me to where I am today. My heart beats fast every time I stand up to start a yogahour teacher training. My heart beats fast every time I teach a public class in a studio I just met. My heart beats fast every time I begin something new. That indicator, my heart beating fast, is (oddly) a sign that something good is about to happen. Its the same fast-beating-heart that I felt that first night in Tucson. The night my life was about to change forever for the better.
Thursday is a big day. My heart will definitely beat fast as we begin this next training. Darren and I are co-teaching the very first 200 hr yogahour teacher training in Tucson at Yoga Oasis. I can't even begin to express how grateful I am to be a part of this. Yogahour has turned out to be my authentic voice. Its from own to offer and everyone involved is completely on board with creating high quality yoga and weaving in your own personal touch. It is exactly where every step has led me to this point. Looking forward to this monumental evolution of my lineage. Thank you, to every person who has made an imprint on my fast-beating-passionate-heart. I look forward to where this is headed.
Speaking of fast-beating hearts... This entire blog was deeply inspired by my sister-in-law, Ellen. Check out her latest video blog. My heart is pounding and as I pack for Tucson, I feel "a little bit scared and a lot alive." I love you dearly, Ellen! Here's to the next chapter.