January 3, 2012

Falling in Love is easy.

Below is an essay I wrote for a scholarship program. The program is ended so I am free to post on other publications and thought I’d share a bit about my yoga journey.

I’m pretty sure that I didn’t receive nearly enough votes to get the scholarship (I’ll know in a few days). But at the end of it all, I realized that getting the story out was the bigger step, the bigger work.

Sharing it with no strings attached, that matters too.

I got to join Rod for a new years day meditation and I realized that no matter what he is one of my teachers. That I will forever and always be both teacher and student and that my yoga journey will take me where it wishes and I’m just going to keep falling in love over and over again.

By sharing this with you I set this as my intention for this year to continue bravely on my path. Many blessings to My EJ family, you have sustained me in ways you can never fathom.

Happy New Year — May you fall in Love deeply and passionately with yourself and your life every minute of every day.

I fell in Love:

The truth is, I am a teacher and apparently I have always been a teacher. I haven’t always relished or fully embraced the role of teacher.  Internally I see myself as mostly student.  I love learning.  I seek – crave – desire learning. It’s a quirk.  I devour books and truly only become focused and clear when absorbing information. For much of my life the only time I felt connected to something larger than myself was when I was learning.   Then came yoga.

Oh make no mistake when I found yoga (or more precisely when it found me) I was still in learning mode, definitely full and complete absorption. When yoga and I met all other learning seemed to lose its shine.  At the time yoga and I started to get to know each other I was in a masters program that suddenly held no interest for me, I was cheating on my first love “higher education” and I quickly dropped out and devoted myself to my new interest.  I had found a better way to fell connected.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before yoga and I began our dance I hadn’t just been a student … I had already been teaching as well – High School Drama and Corporate Training to be specific and although both held much appeal and seemed to suite me in many ways, I never felt completely at home, or as if it was the THING I should do.  Something was missing.  Basically I was teaching, but didn’t feel like a teacher.  I mostly just felt lost, scared and confused with bright spots in my life.  Like amazing children and finally meeting a great man to help me raise them… and that’s where things changed (personally I think it’s because fate is nosey and bossy, but that’s just one woman’s opinion).

I married this amazing man and stuck it out with my mostly unsatisfying corporate training job, where I might have stayed had fate not dealt a cruel blow.  I was widowed.  The day my husband passed something broke and I went to a dark, dark, dark place.   About a month after he died I woke up one day (it was a Wednesday) and said “I can’t live like this – I heard that yoga can help people with sadness – I am going to a class today!”   I was strung out on xanax and can honestly say I have no idea where I had gotten the notion that yoga could help in these situations…but nonetheless I went online and found the closest class I could make it to…Noon Yoga C1, Corepower Cherry Creek.

I fell in love. And yoga responded by saving my life.

Sound farfetched? Oversimplified? Maybe, but it’s the god’s honest truth. In hindsight I can’t even pretend to not see how I was forced to finally get on my path…but I’m skipping ahead.

I went into yoga heart first. I was the weeping girl in savasana. I sometimes cried from the moment I walked into the studio.  Partly because I was stiff, sore and overweight and the classes were in no small way physically easy, outside of the emotional baggage!

I was going to multiple classes a day. This stuff worked!!  I was losing weight, feeling better, getting off the antidepressants, and amazingly, engaging in life.   Only a few months in, I took my first teacher training. Not necessarily to teach, but to learn.

I fell in love.  And yoga repaid me by giving me a calling.

I met my first teacher, whom I still love, adore and worship to this day.  Alanna Kaivalya, The Kaivalya Yoga Method.   I still echo her words even though it would be some time before I stepped into my role of teacher.   She is a part of the tapestry that has become my path.   She gave me a love for chanting and mythology that has led me further into my studies. Alanna took me to my first Kirtan and there I found another teacher in Dave Stringer! At her feet I rediscovered the divine.  She sparkled and reminded me that I had once sparkled too.

During yoga teacher training a guest teacher came to give us a workshop and I was introduced to restorative yogaand a very tantric outlook on yoga.

I fell in love. And yoga repaid me by giving me another teacher.

That guest teacher would become my next muse. Miss Shannon Paige Schneider, OmTime Yoga; Anjali Restorative Yoga, Moving Muse.   Under her guidance I sat at the feet of Douglas Brooks and Carlos Pomeda and my view of yoga would be forever shaped in a certain direction.  At her studio I took classes from Amy Ippoliti and the Anusaraseed was planted, yet at the end of the day it was the TANTRA that sang to my soul.

Over the years I took many classes and several 100’s of hours of workshops.  From Paul Grilley to Baron Baptiste; From Hot Yoga to Kundalini;  From brand new teachers to some really bitter burned out teachers too – and I loved them all…. Eventually I began teaching consistently and that’s when I discovered something.

I fell in love.  And yoga repaid me by connecting me to the divine.

The shift was happening. I was moving from strictly student to teacher, but I still felt so unprepared, so inadequate, so scared and yet, and yet when I taught, it was like I could finally see clearly.  And no matter what else was happening in my life, no matter how I felt before I got there…the minute I started teaching . . . Pure Joy.

You see I don’t want to teach – I NEED to teach.

So I do. I teach. And I’ve been told I have a gift. I know it feels that way…it’s a gift for me to be able to teach.   The journey continues….

Oh heavens the story is too much. How I got where I am and why. I will explain, no there is too much, I will sum up.  I moved, fell in love again (because apparently I am the luckiest woman alive), remarried, and started teaching more.  And then, somewhere along the way, I knew to keep teaching I needed my own teacher.  I have been seeking that teacher for nearly two years now… looking, researching, testing and for two years nothing really inspired me beyond own studies and my own teaching.

Now during this time I studied to become a certified hypnotherapist and studied yoga Nidra and I created my own brand, so to say, of yoga called HypnoRestorative Yoga.  But still I wanted a guru.  A teacher.  I kept researching.  Sure taking Alanna’s class in Bali sounded awesome…but remember I’m a yoga teacher and flights to Bali aren’t exactly high on my possibility list! Besides as much as I love her, I just felt there was a different direction for me. So I waited, and along the way I became a grandma.

I fell in love.  And yoga rewarded me with a new direction.

I moved to be close to my grandson.  I left behind students and a thriving yoga community. I leapt.  It hasn’t always been easy, but something wonderful happened.  One incident after another led me to Rod Stryker and Para Yoga – People I have met, teachers I have worked with, teachers I have hired for workshops — all have brought me back to this man and his work and his teachings.  I sat at his feet recently.

I fell in love. And yoga rewarded me with my next teacher.

But alas unless things changed drastically financially I couldn’t imagine HOW I would sit  at his feet again.  I was online…I found the scholarship program. I was AMAZED to see ParaYoga listed.  Is it silly of me to say it just seemed like fate?  Silly or not, I once again I had that fated “it is meant to be” feeling.

So here I am.  Typing my abbreviated yoga story — yeah abbreviated, scary huh? –  Because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my life’s calling is to teach yoga and I believe that I am meant to be the best possible teacher I can possibly be and to achieve that I must continually put on the mantel of student.

And I fall in love all over again.  And yoga rewards me by letting me both teacher and student.

The program asked 4 questions.

Why do you want to become a yoga teacher.

I say: Because it is my dharma.  Because I love it and nothing gives me greater joy than sharing that love with others.

 Who are your favorite yoga teachers and how do they inspire you.

My late husband Robert LaFavor-  who taught me to love and from there the rest was easy.

My Husband Carl Giles-Courtwright – who inspires me everyday with his undying affection, faith and support.

Alanna Kaivlya – she gave me back my hope my smile and my laughter.

Shannon Paige –Schneider – for teaching me fierce love and radical self-acceptance  Paul Grilley –  for reminding me it’s OK to think for myself.

Lanita Varshell for reminding me that yoga is for every body.

Jen Brooks for teaching me to follow my heart.

Rachel Walsh for helping me fully embrace my role as teacher.

Nova Sprick for helping me believe again.

Laura Brown – for teaching me to believe in myself and to not be afraid to act and pursue my dreams.

My family and friends who teach me everyday about myself and life.

And all the masters, gurus and seekers that have come before and paved the way. Their books and teachings inspire me daily.

 Why do you want to take training with the school you have chosen.

I believe I have finally found a school/teacher (Rod Stryker @ ParaYoga) that will take me in the direction I am destined to go…I believe this is the learning that will help me fulfill my dharma.

 How do you plan on making an impact on the world as a yoga teacher.

Igniting passion.  Living Joyously.  Sharing Laughter.  Radical Self Affirmations.

Love. Imagination.  Peace and tranquility.

Balance = Strength = Vitality. You, Fully Realized.

One person, one student, one smile and one day at time until we reach a critical state of love,  joy and contentment.

And in the deepest well of my heart I want to mentor and help other teachers fully step into their power…I suppose I want to be a teacher’s teacher and help people move from training to teaching, for it is my belief that when we all accept and share are divine gifts fully that is when the world will become the magnificent garden it is meant to be.

Bow your head to your heart – as we move through life may we honor this connection by leading with a heart full of love and guiding with a mind full of compassion.


Photo credit: Heart

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