Nothing beats being surrounded by the people who truly get you and understand the path in life you have chosen. Let’s be clear, these are the people who give you support, who hold you in esteem, but also accountable and who catch you when you fall. It’s not necessarily the people we see every day. In yogic speak, we call this a ‘sangha’ – a community, YOUR tribe, the people who want the best for you without agenda, you get me???
So each year I travel to be with my sangha the yin yoga crew, to learn from my teachers and peers about anatomy, energy work, philosophy etc, but also just as much to learn about myself. The study is always intense, with long days and much to reflect on and personalities to negotiate.
I was fortunate enough to meet my teacher Paul Grilley and his wife Suzee around 4 years ago, three or so years after actually hearing about them. Sometimes these whispers take a long time to manifest. Paul and Suzee popularized Yin yoga, made sense of it and plugged away teaching it for over 20 years without anyone listening to them until such time as the world finally did and we have the benefit of their wisdom.
We meet at the Land of Medicine Buddha (LMB) in Soquel, a couple of hours south of San Francisco in a redwood forest and geek out in this sacred space on yoga philosophy and physiology, anatomy and meditation techniques. LMB is a Buddhist monastery and emanates a remarkable sense of energy that has to be experienced rather than described.
Now spending time at a Buddhist monastery for 9 days studying yoga might be many people’s idea of hell and if you’d told me 15 years ago that I’d be loving this stuff, I’d have laughed in your face, had a cigarette with a vodka chaser and then tottered off to a yoga class. How times change. My yoga has changed. I now know that the system of yoga is about the journey inwards, rather than the shapes we make on the mat. It’s astounding, life-changing and at times painful as growth often is. Every time we step on our mats we are planting seeds of change whether we know it or not. The qualities we hone with our physical practice we can take into our broader lives – strength, flexibility, discipline, persistence, stillness, softness, humour, resilience, grace and patience.
As days pass and the study unfolds, I focus on allowing myself to be open to receive, to not overthink or analyse, but rather spend my time in the woods, reading, walking, swimming, observing what arises. Giving myself space to not push or grasp at life as I’ve learnt that if I do, I take myself further from my inner voice of wisdom. I wait with patience and am rewarded with a vacancy on the next course, the money and the time off work to undertake the course through the kindness and support of a number of people.
So here I am in Mexico, by the beach, maxing out my credit card, waiting out the 2 weeks before my next course begins. Practicing daily what I’ve learnt about meditation, reading, reflecting on my values and life, working out ways to share all this with you when I return to make our sangha at Breathe stronger and stronger.
xx with love, Leonie
Leonie is running a small retreat where she’ll be sharing some of what she has learnt http://www.flowinglife.
Leonie is also teaching a 5 day Yin Yang Intensive at our Breathe Wellbeing Studio in the last week of October: more information here.