HEART OF YOGA WEEK
By Lisa Mitchell
PRECEDE: In honour of her teacher, Sir (TKV Desikachar), Barb created Heart of Yoga Week (17-23 June) at Agama to refresh, inspire and nourish teachers, therapists and students. Celebrating Sir’s 75th birthday on the Winter Solstice, that darkest of mornings, the teachings offered their light for us all.
“Just do the practice and get on with your life!” Barb’s words were a wake-up call, as always.
Within our daily mat practice we self-soothe, contract, expand and sometimes move beyond the mat to flow through the day with equanimity. But there are times when we also look to the mat unreasonably and ask: “Make me whole”, “Make me even”, “Shelter me”, “Soothe me”, “Show me the way!”.
We harbour expectation and cling to the promise of outcomes instead of striding into our lives. Barb’s words were a welcome reminder during Heart of Yoga Week to shrug ourselves free from those expectations, and the Bhagavad Gita inspired us to gather wisdom from our actions.
We need simply to trust this process that wends its mysterious way through our lives, revealing itself beyond the crossroads, exposing our wounds and paring away our samskaras in its own good time.
Our tradition has experienced great upheaval over the past 12 months, but Heart of Yoga Week affirmed that Agama, through Barb’s stirring commitment, is a brighter beacon. She reminds us that we, its teachers, therapists and students, are the tradition’s future “torchbearers”.
We came to yoga for many reasons. Many of us then, perhaps, did not foresee the responsibility that awaited. To receive and live the teachings of this lineage is to perpetuate them. We receive these gifts gratefully and the blessings they instil throughout our lives but each of us must choose our appropriate commitment to this knowledge, either sharing it through our own living example, or active teaching.
During Heart of Yoga Week, I experienced a centre deeply connected to its teachings and renewed by the task ahead to deliver them with rigor and integrity through its directors, mentors, therapists and teachers. Barb welcomed Andrew to the role of director alongside her, and Arlene to the role of centre co-ordinator. She invited health professionals to contribute their perspectives to yoga therapy forums in a spirit of true collaboration, confirming the centre’s commitment to yoga for public health and wellbeing.
Agama’s teachers, I learned, are working through a personal challenge to deliver a cohesive, year-long journey to students in group classes. Given our tradition’s charter of delivering the teachings as they apply to the individual, to span this chasm in group classes requires an inspired, highly informed approach, and is the task of dedicated hearts.
As participants, we reaffirmed and refined what we knew, explored new territories and received strength and stimulation from carefully prepared teachings. We developed a thirst for deeper knowledge and are thankful for the lifetime needed to slake it.
Those still, sun-drenched days in the balcony room held a quieter collective. Agama is evolving toward a new level of maturity, creativity and impetus as all of us who gather there stand more confidently alone in our practice, moving forward, together.
Lisa Mitchell, a writer and teacher in the Krishnamacharya tradition, was invited to share her experience of Heart of Yoga Week.