Hope and Courage


Day three I awoke to another beautiful sunrise above the Big-D, which could arguably be mistaken for Pune, India if I squint a bit. Though I suspected it might be back bends after twisting and somatic Pranayama yesterday, we stayed with more and deeper forward bending.

Abhi greeted us with an almost perfect “Howdy Ya’ll” drawl and gave our hamstrings and ribcages a really nice howdy as well!! Along the way, she gave us insight on what it is to give hope and courage to students who struggle with this challenging category of poses.

There was talk of how disappointing it is to hear that younger students are not being drawn to Iyengar Yoga because of its percieved slow, detailed, and repetitive instruction. She wonders (as I do actually) how this has come to be as what Guruji taught was a myriad of approaches for every person who came to him. There should be no room in a class for disappointment or despair.

I relate to this so much on a day of forward bending. For me, touching the ground was probably my first “yoga miracle”! I was stiff and even today feel my hamstrings need a lot of love to get anywhere. My knee is a challenge at the moment, so to be able to focus on the lower back and rib cage movement to get further into Janu Sirsasana instead of how far my knee is back is a method of work to give me hope as my knee is able to heal.

She threw in the fun of Bakasana (crow) using a thinner block platform, giving me the best start to that arm balance that I have ever had….courage that I will be able to take into my practice of further arm balances as well.

In Savasana she channelled Geeta, who often said “surrender to mother Earth”. This has always been something that speaks to me, surrendering and relaxing into the “lap of mother Earth” immediately gives my body permission to let go. I have never had to think of that, or contemplate the meaning…the Earth has always been a source of comfort, Nature the place I connect to for quietness.

Hope and Courage continued through our afternoon meetings….both of IYNAUS membership and CIYTs. We continue to try to make sense and communicate (however clumsy) through a topic and a divide that has been tough. I am proud of the courage that has been shown by survivors of abuse who have spoken up and out about their experiences. I am hopeful that if we keep the lines of communication open that this community will heal AND be a source and example of change for other communities like us. The fact that we are willing and able to come together in such times means we all have hope and courage for each other…and that is a start.

I hope, as Abhi does for us, that we all find that bit of astonishment through our practice of Yoga…build courage to face anything that comes in front of us, and fly fearlessly forward.

Jennie Williford CIYT

Jennie Williford (CIYT Level 3) is a transplant to LaCrosse via Montana, Illinois, and originally Texas. Throughout her life moves and 5 trips to India, Jennie has acquired a well-rounded and multi-faceted approach to Iyengar Yoga since her start in 1998. Jennie loves the experimental and explorative nature of yoga in accessing deeper knowledge of the Self on every level. The practice of yoga can be intense and introspective, however as practitioners we can be light-hearted and open-minded in our discipline. Jennie is intrigued by the philosophy of yoga and hopes to share this depth of subject while teaching the physical and mental benefits that come from the practice of posture.