The first practice of Wind Horse opened this morning with two Native American medicine teachers who are special to Ana, and to the Forrest Yoga community. Alex Turtle and Chenoa Egawa treated us to a beautiful opening meditation. But I was struck by something Chenoa said:
It’s a mistake if everyone wants to be the same, or if we want to teach everyone in the same way. If we all know the same things, we can’t help each other. We have stopped letting ourselves learn.
Her message was simple – we are made to be different.
I was treated with three very strong practices today, and I had some time to contemplate my own willingness to be okay with what is different about me. I spend an inordinate amount of time fearing failure, or making a mistake. It holds me back.
The message of simply “being who you are” seemed to be hidden in every instruction and asana up here in the high altitude.
The afternoon sessions offered four choices for each time slot. I signed up for Brian Campbell’s session on Relaxing the Neck and Shoulders in Savasana for two reasons. The first is that I hold a lot of tension in my neck, and I am simply dumbfounded by how relaxed I can become in savasana. I have been geeking out with anatomy lately, and I want to learn more. The second, more immediate reason, is that I am starting teacher training in September and I am terrified that I am going to hurt someone doing an adjustment. I thought this would be a nice instruction-based class in advance of starting the training to help me tip-toe into those waters.
I went into the class knowing that we would be doing partner work. The minute I got into the class, though, I started to panic a little bit. I was nervous. What if no one wanted to partner with me? I knew that many of the students in the class were trained teachers who would have had ample experience with this and I didn’t want to be a drag on their experience.
Brian got up in front of the class and made a simple statement to start us out:
All touch, all bodywork – is about meeting people where they are.
Amen, I was thinking, but I could still feel that twinge of anxiety creeping into my stomach.
And then two pretty neat things happened. Ana came in a few minutes late and rolled her mat down next to mine – she was taking the class too (and was an active, inquisitive participant to boot). I relaxed a little. And then a lovely, sweet woman named Dorothy leaned over – unprompted – and asked if we could be partners.
Her gift of being open, friendly, and welcoming – immediately changed my perspective.
Her gift allowed me to be honest about my fear. And although my hands were still shaking a little bit when we started, I was smiling when we finished.
I got more out of this 2-hour session than I have on any other assisting or partner work I have done in the past three years.
Because I wasn’t afraid anymore.
This evening, we all gathered together one of the lodges to hear more stories and songs from Alex and Chenoa. They gifted the Forrest Yoga community with a song called “Fire Song.” In their tradition, it is a true honor to offer us a song that we can share as a gift.
They taught the song to us in a call and answer format. And still buoyed by this afternoon’s session, I wasn’t embarrassed about making a mistake or my poor singing voice.
Maybe we don’t know all of our gifts yet. Maybe we aren’t sure about being different.
But I’m pretty certain we have to help each other if we’re going to get anywhere in this life.