When I first entered an Anusara yoga class, I had already been practicing yoga for several years. Yoga, and my beautiful and inspiring teachers, had already helped me to shift the tide of my emotional, spiritual and physical life. Yet when I sat down on my mat for that first Anusara class, something different happened. Kim Self, the teacher who introduced me to this beautiful style, began to speak and I began to nod my head. “Mmm-hmm…” I thought to myself, and then again, and again. I felt like everything she was saying, I agreed with, or more accurately, everything she was saying, I somehow already knew.
At first I thought that Kim and I must just be a lot alike; we seemed to hold similar opinions about a lot of things. I felt like she was finally giving me words for all the ideas I had held in my heart for years yet never knew how to express clearly. But throughout the next year of weekly classes I came to realize that what was actually happening was an unveiling of a deeper knowledge.
The teachings of Anusara yoga state that the true teacher lies within (Om Namah Shivaya Gurave). The most important things that we “learn” from doing yoga are simply revealings of our innermost knowledge, our own deepest self. In other words, we already knew them. What that means is, no one is The Teacher. And no one is simply a student of yoga. We are all walking together down this path: learners, guides, students, friends. Each of us in our own time shares with others, and all of us receive.
Never have I felt this more profoundly than earlier this year on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand. Each day as I stepped to the front of the room to guide practice for the teacher trainees, I felt a huge wave of energy coming toward me. And at the end of class as I walked out the door of the studio I felt blessed beyond belief. In some ways I learned more in each 2-hour session than in a whole semester of graduate school. The amazing beings at this training showed me how to listen, how to feel, how to appreciate. I learned about silence. About gratitude. About life and love.
In a way, though, it isn’t these specific lessons that I want to share with you; but rather the act of learning them. I’ve discovered that every moment in life is a teaching. Each situation, an opportunity. And each person I meet has the ability to guide me toward an experience that I have never before felt, if only I remain open to his or her offering. By recognizing our gifts, and simultaneously seeing those of others, we allow for this magical process of discovery to occur.
May we always remember, on our mats and off, to honor the true teacher that lies within all beings.
Visit Kim, my first Anusara yoga teacher, at her website.