Inspiration in the Mountains
First, I want to thank all my wonderful instructors, family and early supporters that came out to the Tula Grand Opening on Friday. It was completely mind-blowing to see people in my space - doing yoga! What an awesome community of people we already have.
It's going to be a great first week,
The following is a guest blog post by our instructor and assistant manager, Adrienne Nothnagel.
Last week I attended the Baron Baptiste Immersion workshop at the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park. I consider Baron Baptiste to be a founding father of the Power Yoga style, so practicing with him four hours a day, I hoped to gain some of his fatherly yogic wisdom to bring into my own practice and teaching.
He emphasized simple phrases: “Bring love to your love of the practice.” “Stand in your Power. Have power in your Power.” “Make it interesting.” Honestly, he sounded kinda like a stoner at first. But as the week progressed, we went a bit deeper into these simple phrases. His practice combines rigorous asana with a playful tone. As we held poses for what felt like forever, Baron engaged in a philosophical conversation with us. He questioned us on our purpose, our habitual thoughts, drew metaphors to the stability of our poses to the stability of our lives, and pointedly asked us what we will “let go of” that is holding us back in our practice (and in life).
I learned that the “Power” in Power Yoga is not force or struggle at all. Power, in this context, is actually a radical acceptance of where we are in the current moment. With this acceptance we can proactively change our lives, perceptions of self, and our relationships. It is seeing yourself as a block of clay, rather than a solid rock. We no longer say: “This is just the way I am/my body is,” and instead we say: “I seem to be this way today/lately/subconsciously.” Understanding ourselves in the current moment gives us a way to grow honestly. We let go of who we were and who we think we are, and instead we just... are. When we embrace who we are right now, we have Power.
Compassion and love were also emphasized in his classes and breakout sessions. We would meditate for an hour, then we were challenged to stare directly into the eyes of a stranger next to us and discuss what came up in meditation. Following this, we were asked just to look into each others’ eyes and not say a thing - just holding eye contact.
So many emotions come up during this exercise! I immediately became aware of a natural fear/resistance to connect with others that we all have. This fear is mostly subconscious, hidden in places that are tough to access, and it is incredibly difficult to articulate why we all have an urge to hide. The overarching lesson is simply that we often see ourselves as completely separate and different from others. But at the root of our being, we are all the same. When you strip away the superficial things (image, materials, individualized experiences), we all seek love, fulfillment, and life. You can see this when you look into some one’s eyes. The more we pull away from looking into the eyes of the people around us, the less likely we are going to be compassionate to that person and the less likely we are to see ourselves within the other person.
After this contemplation on individual-to-individual connection, we logically progressed to the concept of community. One of my partners, Ruby, struggled to hold eye contact. When my eyes persisted, hers began to tear up; I gave a smile for reassurance, and the tears subsided. I knew it was hard for both of us to stare so intently at each other. When it was all done, she offered a profound comment: “Community creates itself. Many people will be in one place at the same time in so many situations. The quality of that community is based entirely on how you react to it.”
Now back in Chicago, we had our Grand Opening last night for Tula. Around forty people came together in the same place and opened themselves up to meeting and socializing with others. I taught the grand opening yoga to a room full of awesomely inspiring, attentive, willing-to-connect individuals. In this new space I am excited to empower our students to grow and “bring love to their love of the practice.” We want people to see this not only as a breath of peace after a long week, but also a place where they can count on awesome people to be here. The community is ready for your power, your passion, and your engagement.
- Adrienne Nothnagel