by Rudrani Nogue, CSYT
“I never thought I would hear that sound come out of your mouth,” exclaimed a regular participant at our yoga philosophy discussion group to another regular. It was a sound of ease and joy. Leola had realized that, though her life had not changed, her reaction to it was gone. Leola repeated the sound several times. Then several in our circle had fun repeating the sound. Group laughter bubbled up at Leola’s wonderful transformation. “Small-s self” melted away in that moment. Clearly coming from the Truth, Leola glowed.
In April 2016, at her granddaughter’s pre-school, Leola had seen an announcement that Swami Nirmalananda would be leading a satsang (meditation program) in the same building. Leola attended. Swami Nirmalananda awoke Leola at a level that she did not yet recognize. Yet a decision arose in the back of her head. She would follow up with yoga classes “down the road.”
In September 2016, Leola phoned me to ask about yoga classes. I could hear deep stress in her voice. She was helping her daughters by taking care of grandkids daily, a one-year-old and a five-year-old. This was overwhelming, tiring work for Leola, with overactive young children. She had sleep apnea, tight muscles and aching knees. She wanted more flexibility and peace. She cried as I suggested in yoga class she would learn ways to care for herself. Finding time to come, however, was a roadblock. She said she would think about it and get back to me. A few days later she phoned to say “yes.” She registered for an upcoming session to claim an evening when she could get away.
This first step set Leola on a life changing pattern of “doing more yoga.” Leola consistently attends yoga class and has committed to taking care of herself. She is consistent in every yoga practice she has taken up in the 18 months since beginning. This is even changing her reaction to life as she abides more and more in Self.
Leola began with spinal release poses at home in the morning before starting her day. In class, she reported on her progress. After about five months, her early morning home practice included all the poses she’d learned in class. Her body — particularly her knees — and her mind were opening.
Because she liked how yoga was helping her, she also joined my yoga philosophy discussion groups and satsangs. In these discussion groups, yogis bond deeply. In this safe community, they share the personal meaning they get from Swami Nirmalananda’s monthly contemplation articles. Leola learned principles of yoga philosophy, applied them in her life and connected with other yogis. Along the way, she often shared her yogic progress as well as her continuing, mostly frustrating, daily challenge with childcare. From attending the satsangs, she added meditation to her daily morning practice.
In June 2017, Leola attended my three-class “Learn to Mediate” series. She went even deeper into “capital-S Self,” and understood even more about the “More” that Svaroopa® yoga provides. She understood that she was in the concentrated flow of Grace that comes from Swami Nirmalananda. Now knowing that Grace was supporting her, Leola added japa to her practices. When the time is right, she plans to add chanting before she meditates.
Another Svaroopa® yoga teacher suggested Leola start Ujjayi Pranayama. Leola started waking earlier so she could do 20 minutes of Ujjayi Pranayama, as well as her meditation and poses before the kids would wake. She started noticing her days were getting easier with the kids. She has progressed to doing Ujjayi breathing for 20 minutes both morning and night. She prioritizes her weekly yoga class, going to another teacher when I am away or not teaching. Leola takes advantage of any “extras” that are available, so she is registered for our upcoming Weekend Workshop with an Ashram faculty member.
Recently, Leola reported that her yearly medical visit to monitor the sleep apnea revealed positive changes. The amount of air needed from her machine reduced from 11 to 7. This was big news. She is heading toward getting off the machine.
At our last satsang, Leola clearly blossomed forth in a big way. All group members gladly shared in her audible expression of ease and joy in her life. Even though the challenges of her family and babysitting have not changed, Leola is in joy when caring for her grandkids rather than being overwhelmed. The wonderful acknowledgement of Leola’s many positive changes from our group was heartwarming and fun! Clearly, Leola keeps expanding into Self through her yoga practices and into the flow of Grace day by day. It is a beautiful opening I am privileged to witness. I cherish the big smile on her face.