By Marti Monk
I enrolled in Vidyadevi’s workshop in Boise as soon as I heard about it. Thus, on May 12th I was deeply settled into my blankets next to three of my equally deeply contented yoga buddies. For a decade, Theresa, Shan and I have been faithful students of Svaroopa® yoga, through Beginning, Continuing and now Deeper classes. A decade ago, our beloved Deeper Teacher, Betsy Ayers, was a student along with us. In this workshop, she got to be “just a student” again.
While each of us benefit greatly from this practice, the four of us together receive so much more. In this Mandali Travels workshop, Vidyadevi talked about “bliss” and how it’s always deep within. As I listened to her words, I glanced at my three longtime yoga buddies. I realized our practice together has not only bonded us in a deep sisterhood. It has opened each of us to the precious presence of bliss within.
I was 54 years old when I became a yoga student. Soon after my husband died suddenly, I explored jazzercise as well as fast-flow yoga and even astrology. In the midst of turmoil from such a life change, I needed something to settle me down. I found a spiritually oriented yoga studio in Boise, and a teacher who offered a nurturing style. It included classical standing poses as well as twisting into pretzel shapes.
After a year or so, that teacher, Matrika Gast, discovered Svaroopa® yoga and took Foundations. Suddenly we were on the floor, learning to align, relax and soften to release spinal tension. Beautiful, thick plaid blankets had replaced our sticky mats. The power of this practice didn’t hit me between the eyes right away. Because I’d been exercising, “opening up” was a new concept. If I opened up, would I fall apart? At the beginning, as my tight muscles released tension, they ached. But my teacher kept me going. Sometimes I thought, “Good grief, will this ever stop?” Yet I never considered walking out, and that phase really didn’t last all that long.
Gradually, I developed a personal Svaroopa® yoga practice, and it became a part of me. I looked forward to it every morning. The night before, I would wonder: What poses will I do? As I began to experience more and more physical core opening, my heart opened as well. I reached out to classmates, they became yoga buddies, and we developed closeness. We bonded in workshops and immersions as well. This process never happened in any other groups that I joined.
I’ve taken Foundations, the five-day immersion training, twice. As this yoga continues to transform my heart, I feel better in a way that I can’t fully explain. And I don’t quite yet know the value of this change. In the world of my brain that’s skilled in writing grant proposals, “bliss” means happiness and satisfaction. But the experience of Bliss found through Svaroopa® yoga is something more. When we talked about Bliss with Vidyadevi in the May workshop, I and my three yoga buddies had just been (with about 8 other classmates) in Rotated Stomach Pose. So I was remembering that, on one side, I had sensed Theresa’s hand next to mine. On the other side, Betsy patted my hand. As we talked about Bliss, Shan, who seldom speaks in discussion, described Bliss as what she was experiencing in the workshop: “Beyond all the details, there’s the sense of Oneness.”
Vidyadevi’s workshop opened me to an experience of deeper knowing. I realized that I am living a life that’s interwoven with powerful yoga. Bliss for me is a sense of recognition. I see in a yoga buddy that big-S Self that I am finding within as my own Self. I recognize in her the same Self as in you — and in everyone.
I am grateful to be living a life interwoven with yoga, thanks to all my Svaroopa® yoga experiences.