This past year has certainly been an interesting one for me. The phrase practice and all is coming certainly comes to mind.
In a nutshell, I turned my back on academic math, saw my brother sell all of his worldly possessions in order to be with the woman of his dreams--whom he is now married to, saw three roommates some and go, moved back home, changed paths to the ESL route, landed a job in China teaching math, said goodbye to an amazing person, learned to do handstands, dabbled in one armed handstands, and said goodbye to a city that I had called home for over 7 years.
Obviously, in 7 years, you meet a lot of interesting people. Many of the people I've met have played a pivotal role in my development as a person in some way or another, and I'd like to take the time to honor my most influential teachers.
1. BL: I'll never forget my first yoga class, with her. I had no idea what to expect as I had only done p90x yoga a few times and wasn't really sure what it was all about. There were abundant statues of deities, a picture of an elderly Indian man, the father of Ashtanga, Guruji, interesting decor, a tiny bathroom, and yogis and yoginis twisting themselves into what seemed like impossible positions with relative ease, and the smell of incense, but that's not what stuck with me. For lack of a better term, I will say that your presence was incredibly peaceful and welcoming. This is probably the main reason I stayed with it for so long. I was curious how someone could be like that and still be able to push us to our limits at times. Sadly, your knee and schedule changes at the yoga studio made it such that you couldn't teach as much as you would have liked to, but I am certainly grateful for the classes that I was lucky enough to attend with you. Your absence also made it possible for me to work extensively with another influential teacher, whom I have already expressed my gratitude towards in a previous post, so I am thankful for that as well. It is quite interesting that someone can teach you so much by doing nothing but accepting you as you are without judgement. Perhaps that is the best practice that I learned from you. Hopefully your final gift to me will help me become better able to produce the same alchemical transformation in others that occurred in me.
2. AB: A former psychology teacher of mine, and the person who introduced me to yoga. I can't thank you enough for this. The decision to take Abnormal Psychology has certainly changed my life situation quite dramatically. Quite so. Thanks for teaching me "right effort" for lack of a better term. For some reason, I am able to achieve great things in your classes. The awesome music certainly helps.
3.AG: A free spirit with an incredible voice. Your sheer enthusiasm for life, yoga, and music have certainly inspired me in ways I can't even begin to express. For some reason, you are able to bring out the best in me and for that I bow to you. You've certainly inspired me to take on any task with childlike enthusiasm. You've taught me to embrace a life full of joy, handstands, and shenanigans. You'll be a fine yoga teacher one day, because you already are and I don't see that changing any time soon. I'll remember you every time my hands become my feet.
4. SM: I'll certainly never forget to breathe correctly in your presence. Although others have taught me to work very hard and aspire to greatness, you've taught me to relax and enjoy the moment. This is something that I've been able to put into practice "off the mat" and am quite thankful for this. Your gratitude page is an excellent idea. Hopefully it will inspire others to appreciate more and more moments. A great practice indeed.
5. ML: You have certainly taught me "non-anticipation" for lack of a better term. Back when I was in reserves, we had a Sergeant who used to harp on us not to "anticipate the words of command". A few moments of auto-pilot notwithstanding, I was able to do this more and more as I took more of your classes. Being able to do exactly what is required in the moment without worrying about what will happen after that is a beautiful practice in itself. Not turning the present moment into an obstacle is quite helpful indeed.
The Ashtangi in me associates the number five with the end of the posture, or in this case, the list above. There have been countless other people out there that have helped me over the last year, and I thank all of you as well. I am not sure what 2013 will bring, but I would like to think that the lessons I've learned from everyone will help make it a prosperous time indeed. I'm not sure when or where I'll see you all next, but if and when I do, I shall be truly thankful for it.