"I couldn’t see but I heard breathing. It felt like the whole room was breathing, the whole building. There was something so primal about the sound, that I had again one of those moments. I want that, and what I felt was how ancient it was. Whatever I was hearing felt really, really old. I will never forget that. It’s been around forever, something about that. Then, your name gets called, “One more, you come.” And you just, it was like stepping into fire, it was a safe fire." - Annie Pace
I had already been doing some Iyengar yoga and I had one very dear friend inside the corporate environment who pokes his head over and says “Yo, Annie. I heard this is really trippy, dude doing a workshop in Boulder. Do you wanna go?” So we went off and I met Richard (Freeman), and that was when he was just starting to introduce the sequence to people. It wasn’t even the full on exact sequence but he came back from being with Guruji and decided “okay, we’re gonna try this out on the students.” So, we were some of his guinea pigs. Then some years after that, Guruji did come to Boulder, and that’s when I met him. We were all terrified, and excited and full of adrenaline. I went up to pranam to Guruji at the end of the class and go down to his feet. I came up and look into his eyes, and he said to me… he didn’t know my name, it’s the first time I met him. He said, “You! Come Mysore.” And I said, “When Guruji?” He said, “October, you coming.” I said, “Okay,” and that was it.
That was something like, 27 years ago. The first trip I think I was here for 2 months, and then every trip after that it expanded expanded in time, until at one point in the 90’s I was spending 8 to 10 months here. That too was when I was in my 30’s, early 30’s. Didn’t have a family, didn’t have a school of my own, didn’t have my own homestead and I had the opportunity to do that. So I would just stay as long as I could.
As foreign as it all was, as hard as it was and I wasn’t used to the culture, there was something that resonated, and I couldn’t put it into words. I’ve felt it. I was grounded in the midst of being this babe in the woods not knowing what the heck is going on. I made so many mistakes, you know, cultural faux pas, things like that.. but what you gonna do? You go, you fumble and you learn. Guruji and Ammaji were so helpful, too into really bringing us into this small family. There was 6 students in the room for practice, so we got a lot of personal attention. Coming to class the first day of school, there was a room that’s about the same size as my shala in Crestone, with a curtain so you couldn’t see. You weren’t waiting on the stairs to see through the window because there was no waiting line you were just there behind the curtain. I couldn’t see but I heard breathing. It felt like the whole room was breathing, the whole building. There was something so primal about the sound, that I had again one of those moments. I want that, and what I felt was how ancient it was. Whatever I was hearing felt really, really old. I will never forget that. It’s been around forever, something about that. Then, your name gets called, “One more, you come.” And you just, it was like stepping into fire, it was a safe fire.
The first trip, Guruji and Ammaji would serve us on the floor. They’d fold back the carpets to the shala and it was Dasara, the festival the end of Navratri in the fall when I was there. I remembered lining us up on the floor. I think there was only 10 students total, with our banana leaves. Gurui and Ammaji were doing the serving. They were serving.
Where are you gonna get that, with just such unconditional love? Did I know how precious that was? Yeah, I felt it. Now I really know it and I feel really deeper. Sweet times.
Clint: What did that feel like, having Guruji, you couldn’t hide in that space.
You can't hide. There’s just no way you could hide. You couldn't hide but there wasn’t even an opportunity to think about it. You just did it, you jumped into the fire.
It was a few years later maybe, he put 8 in the same room. A few more years went by and “Oh my gosh, there’s 10 people in the room,” and we thought it was so crowded. At some point, I don’t know at what year, he started putting 12 in the same room. Then more came, and more came. More came, and he didn’t stop. He never said no. He didn’t say no. That unconditional love and acceptance, always there until the day he died. Always, always, always.
With over 37 years of experience, Annie is one of the most adept practitioners of traditional Ashtanga Yoga. She received her Advanced B teaching certification from Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in 1995, a rare honor, and she continues to study extensively in India. Visit Annie's Facebook page. Photo and bio from Annie Pace's website http://www.anniepace.com/