Fiona Stang, June 2003 – Ekaminhale
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Fiona Stang, June 2003

June 2003, Mysore, India.

My mind instantly returned to 2003, another trip in Mysore, India, when Guruji told me that kapotasna is a very, very, very important posture in the Intermediate Series. Kapotasana, he told me, tells him everything he needs to know about a student's practice. On that trip, I heard his words, but they continue to speak to me to this day, and many of the days in between. In 2007, on my first trip to India with two young children, my body was not quite ready to fulfill Guruji's command. Perhaps Guruji knew that he might not see me right when I needed that lesson. Guruji was on one continent and I was on another. I had two small children, so my trips to India were less frequent. Guruji planted the seed, and there it rested in my subconscious waiting to be more deeply sown, and grown, when my body and mind were ready. His lesson was learned many months or years later. And this has been my relationship with Guruji. As time passes, these lessons become even more powerful and potent as these seeds are sown in practice and in my life. These lessons rarely are symbolic of the physical body; they usually have great significance to my intuition and to how I live my life.

I could list story after story of the reasons why I kept returning to study with Guruji, but I will leave it at that. Guruji pushed my buttons, and for that I am eternally grateful. He showed up with me on my mat for ten years and asked me, "Why fearing?" Through this specific question, he brought a deeper understanding to my life and my relationship with fear. I am grateful for his patience and his daily support as I face my "something" day in and out.

Yoga is a practice for life. I still have fear. Sometimes I feel fear in postures, fear in life, and fear in moments. But this fear is different from the fear I experienced before I met Guruji. This fear, I have come to recognize, comes and goes more freely. It ebbs and flows like water on the shore. This fear is not part of me now, but at times it feels like a dark cloud hanging over my head. When the cloud obscures the light, I try taking a few breaths and I recognize that an old pattern is reemerging, "Why fearing?" Fearful moments may still be unpleasant, but they remind me of my teacher calling me on my patterns. That reminder allows the darkness of the black cloud to slowly fade. Then the sun, once obscured by the cloud, shines again. My teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, helped me see the light. It is always there.

For me, the practice is merely a metaphor that reveals our own tendencies that may hold us back from being in a peaceful, tranquil state. When fear and my tendency to worry greets me in my daily life as mom, wife, Yoga teacher, and aspiring yogini, I think back to Guruji standing next to my mat, arms crossed, reminding me to move beyond my mind. This is my ongoing relationship with Guruji. Be in the moment, stand in my centre, my midline, and breathe.

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