One of my motivations for moving to Granada and living/teaching at a yoga studio was to teach more yoga. Despite the fact that I’ve been teaching for a little more than two years now (a fact that still astounds me), I very much feel like a new teacher. I stutter my words sometimes as I’m describing which limb to extend, confuse left side with right, and wonder whether the sequences I create are bringing the most benefit to the students in the room. At home in Austin, even though it felt like I was living, breathing, eating, sleeping yoga, I was only teaching two classes a week. Those classes were my islands. In those 150 minutes, I would reconnect with the mysteries of yoga, the infinite nature of the breath, and the stillness of bodies in motion. I yearned to teach more, but the realities of managing a yoga studio meant there was only so much time available for stepping into the role of teacher.
It turns out that my Spanish is wretched. Ok, I knew it wasn’t great, but I truly have been studying with a few different programs at home, and oh my — you wouldn’t know it to listen to me in a conversation. This morning, the lamp in my room crashed to the floor, shattering the light bulb. This put me in need of a new light bulb, a broom, and a dustpan. The conversation I had went something like this….
me – “Good morning, how are you?”
Ella – “Good morning! Very well, and you?”
me – “Very well…….I need…” here, I mime sweeping with a broom.
Flying into Managua looked like flying into any other city in my sense memory. Bright city lights twinkling and busy roadways entering and exiting the city. If it wasn’t for the two men on either side of me who didn’t speak English, I could almost have fooled myself that this plane’s landing was like any other. Then, I caught sight of a very small tienda with the store sign en espanol, and my pulse quickened. Numerous doubts raced through my mind — or maybe just one phrase, repeated over and over like a mantra: I must be crazy to sell all my things and move to Central America with such a small plan. Crazy: loca gringa, muy loca gringa! I practiced some pranayam to return my heartbeat to normal and quell the shaking in my hands. Some deep breathing in and out of the right nostril while chanting silently Om Surya Namaha reminded me that my entry to the land of the sun (as Mehtab called it in the Vedic Astrology reading I had last year) has been as clear a path as one can hope for in this world. Calmed, I struggled with my much-too-heavy bags through customs, and left the airport to meet my friend and his family, and to go to the yoga studio I will be staying at for the next few months.
The studio is beautiful. A divided central courtyard is lush with mango trees, jasmine trees, a large egg-laying duck, y una muy grande tortuga named Snoopy.
“Somewhere there is a place that will change my life. It’s physical beauty will shock me into seeing my world in a wholly new way. The lives of the people there will be so sharply different from mine that they will be a mirror to me, and in that mirror I will see all my faults and fears, and gather the courage to eradicate them. This place will be so untouched by my civilization that I will be renewed just by coming to know it. To visit it will be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, a necessary adventure of the soul…”
~ Charles Monaghan, “A South Seas Adventure.”
In an effort to reach this soft place in my heart that yearns to live in a different culture, under a warmer sun, a life with minutes that seem to pause and stretch and last a little longer than the minutes here in North America, I have spent the last few months letting go.
The release started simply enough. The clothes in my closet that didn’t get as much mileage as others, pictures in boxes that hadn’t hung on any walls for months, and jewelry and kitchenware all gathering dust. Then, I began to get a sense of my attachment to the material when it came time to release items associated with precious memories: gifts given to me by people dear to me, t-shirts and letters from old loves, souvenirs from life-changing moments. The commercial below seemed to mock my efforts, proclaiming that “you are your stuff,” so you’d better protect what you’ve got. After all, once you let go of your stuff, what identity can you claim?
In yoga, Patanjali speaks about the Yamas and Niyamas, simple rules designed to address the basic human condition, and assist us in living a happy, healthy, and holy life. I’ve often felt my life swing like a pendulum from focusing on one or two of these rules to another. Read the rest of this entry