Reflections on 2011

As 2011 drew to a close, I had some time to pause and consider what an amazing and eventful year it has been!  My husband and I arrived in Melbourne in October of 2010 so, 2011 was my first full year living here. Moving to Australia from the U.S. was a massive change for me.  I not only changed continents, I changed careers.  Although I sometimes miss my “former life” as a documentary filmmaker, I have really enjoyed channeling all that passion and creative energy into teaching yoga.

A better work/life balance here in Melbourne has allowed me to slow down a little.  And, with more time, I’ve had more opportunity to travel and to indulge in things like yoga retreats!  I attended 2 amazing retreats this year in 2 places I had never visited before, Hawaii and Bali.  On the Big Island of Hawaii, I experienced the stark beauty of volcanic rock and black sand beaches, bathed in healing pools heated by lava, and felt the transformative energy of the fire goddess Pele.  In Bali, I breathed in air heavy with the scent of flowers, drank gallons of coconut water straight from the coconut, and connected with the Balinese practice of integrating sacred offerings into daily life.

While not away on exotic retreats, I also found some amazing teachers here in Melbourne.  Among them is my yoga teacher, Andrew Mournehis.  When Andrew learned that Eagle Pose was my least favorite yoga pose, he invited me to learn to do it upside-down! Andrew’s methods can be unconventional. I sometimes groan inwardly when we are asked to gaze deeply into the eyes of the yogi across from us in Warrior 2 or to put on blindfolds and whirl like dervishes.  In frustration, I once declared that I was sick of journal writing because I just didn’t have any new insights!  And yet, with great love, Andrew always asks me to do the hardest thing – to dismantle the self that I have carefully constructed and reveal my true self.  Nothing is harder, not even upside down Eagle!  And yet, as I peel back the layers, I gain new insights and new clarity of purpose.  Similarly, I am inspired and challenged by my Daoist martial arts instructor, Li.  Learning the elegant Swimming Dragon form with Li tests my patience and challenges my ego.  I did not know it was possible to move your pinky finger incorrectly so many different ways! Li once watched us perform a section of the form.  He glided silently around the room, observing our movements.  When we stopped, he stood at the front of the room and said in soft, calm voice, “You know, sometimes, when you are watching TV, you see something that is really good and you can’t wait to see the next scene?  And then sometimes you are watching and it’s so bad you just want to change the channel?  That is how I felt.”  I didn’t know whether to laugh at the image, or weep.  And that is often how I feel learning this powerful yet delicate way of moving and breathing.  But nothing teaches me more about how to find the balance of hard and soft.  And nothing clears my mind of clutter more than the absolute concentration the form demands.  When class is over, I feel clear and light, yet grounded.

Many have been generous to me in 2011. I am extremely grateful to Chris at Union Yoga, Gena at Ohana Yoga, and Lindsay at Studio Cirq who all gave me the opportunity to teach at their studios.  Perhaps more importantly, each of them has supported me as I find my authentic voice, even when that means departing from more traditional yoga asana and incorporating movement from dance, martial art, and tai chi into my teaching. I am thrilled to be offering some new classes at these studios in 2012!  I am also teaching a new class at the Melbourne Sport and Aquatic Center (MSAC).  Please visit my “Class Schedule” page for the updated timetable.

I’ve also really enjoyed working with the “crew” at Lululemon Bourke St ,who welcomed me first as an in-store teacher and later invited me to become an ambassador for the Bourke St store.  They bring an amazing energy to class and have been hugely supportive in getting the word out about Yin Yoga.  Together, we will be offering more classes and workshops in 2012, so stay tuned!

Last, but certainly not least, I extend a huge “thank you” to all the dedicated yogis and yoginis who come to my classes each week, with open minds and hearts, ready and willing to try anything.  You all, truly, humble me.

In the last days of 2011, I found a poem titled “Take Another Look” by Erich Schiffmann.  The final stanza reads, “Pause again and take a look.  What are you really after?  What do you desire above all else?  Look deeply, feel deeply, sense inwardly into yourself…and do not be afraid to be absolutely beautifully honest.”

In that spirit, I begin 2012…