Prelude to a Downward Dog (December 2010)

So thus begins an adventure.  An adventure in spirit.  An adventure in body.  An adventure in personal history and in history as old and dusty as the sages.  Truth be told, I’m scared shitless.

Consider this a prelude to a downward dog.  And consider yourselves among the lucky.  It might get messy.  No, if I know myself at all, it will definitely get messy.

In case you’re out of the grand poo-ba hula-hoop, I’m high-tailing out of Montreal for warmer climes in attempt to wiggle my fingers into and under the spiritual undergarments of yoga.  Having practiced for going on three years now, I realized last spring that maybe, just maybe, this might be something I could DO.  And for a former dancer/glass-blower/art student/teacher-waitress-broke-ass-wayward-wanderer, I certainly have DONE many things that have CERTAINLY not earned me much in terms of status symbols, or a paycheck, for that matter.  I am simply one of those hippie-dippie folks who has to take pride in “life experience” because the BMW is definitely not in my deck of cards.

But maybe my history is relevant.  Maybe, I might be able to help others find comfort and acceptance with the “here and now”, open their eyes to the power and beauty of living fully each and every moment, the uncertainty of the road ’round the bend, to help one find strength and confidence in the whispers of the heart, and to listen.  Don’t get me wrong, folks.  I am not speaking from some enlightened state.  I did not take LSD (recently).  I am speaking from the perspective of one so humbled by lack of knowledge.  One who sometimes feels so small.  One who, still, at 32, just doesn’t know.

Somehow I have the sneaking sensation that this might strike it rich.  And definitely not in the paper form of riches, nor in gold or jewels, but rather in the heart-expanding, Grinch-like growth that no amount of money can tease away from.

I leave in exactly 38 days.  My flight departs Montreal and 22 hours later, touches down in Salvador, Brazil.  A city situated in the state of Bahia, and considered one of the birthplaces of Brazilian culture.  From there, and three days later, I will take a bus six hours south to a town called Itacare.  Continuing on a bumpy road to a beach-side eco-resort called Piracanga, where for one month, a beach-front cabin with no running water, save for the sounds of the ocean,  is where I’ll call home.

The preparation has been not-so-complicated and oh-so-expensive.  Since I am travelling after the training through Central America for two months, I have been aerated by pin-pricks that should have been administered by golden needles, they were so expensive.  I had to have Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever and a lofty prescription for Malaria pills which will assuredly ruffle the tail-feathers of my night-time pillow, or perhaps cause the pincers of my bedbugs to quiver in fear.  Eeew.  Eeeeew.  Eeeeeeeew!!!!

The teacher training is intense.  One month, six-days a week, with a schedule that begins at 6:00am for meditation and ends at 7:00pm.  There are two yoga classes each day interspersed with lectures that cover anatomy, meditation, yoga history, public speaking and all the rest (whatever that means).  And you know what the funny thing is?  The funny thing is that that all seems like a piece of cake.  The hard part is now.  Knowing that for my month of training, I am expected to be a pillar of good health–no drinking, no meat, no cigarettes and GULP–no caffeine.  I don’t know about you, but I am the person who stumbles from bed to the coffee pot, brews half a pot (and then says she only drinks two cups a day), and cannot speak until that hot, beautiful, bitter liquid has become one with my bloodstream.  So I am trying to wean myself off the bean now, and truth be told— not going so well.

The beautiful part has been the people.  One of the training administrators set us up with a bulletin-board on Yahoo.  Once we were invited to join, we were allowed to post bits of information about ourselves.  It was like a flower unfolding, or the character-introduction part of a play.  You know that these characters are going to change you, affect you….but yet, you have no idea how.  People from all over are a part of this.  Three women from Trinidad are coming together.  A father, with two children and a patient wife and dog are supporting him on his dream.  A 37 year-old woman is leaving her corporate job to don a backpack and follow her heart.  One woman, confirmed to go, is having hardships and may have to back out.  At lease a post a day is sent to her offering support, encouragement, advice and love.  And we’re strangers.

I mean, how cool is that?  How do you prepare yourself for something so big, so exciting and simultaneously terrifying?  Knowing, in my three years of practice, the dredges of the bottom-scum that yoga can bring to the surface, am I ready to share the muddy waters with perfect strangers?  Am I going to suck at being a yoga instructor?  Turning beet-red in front of my classrooms, stuttering my words over half-formulated poses, contorting my students into a modern-day version of a bad Twister game?

And so I set the stage for you.  Because for me, the best yoga instructors that I’ve ever had were the ones that spoke honestly, who weren’t afraid to show the good bits with the not-so-good bits.  I have NO doubt there will be a slew of not-so-good bits coming your way.  But (and prepare yourself) I’m going to share them with you anyway.  Because it’s me.  And it’s real.  And inevitably, it will lead to some oh-so-beautiful bits.

I want you to take this journey with me.  And so we begin together.  To learn and share and be open.  To shock and rock and challenge.  Why not?  Could be fun.  But mostly, and since I’m scared shitless, I’ll need some pillars of support along the way.

(a yogi would say namaste, which means, “I honor the spirit in you, which is also in me”,  but I am a virgin citizen in the territorial waters of Sanskrit terminology so I abstain until further notice)


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. conteska (sophie)
    Aug 07, 2011 @ 03:05:23

    a beautiful way to start Jen….so excited for you.


  2. confessionsfromthemat
    Aug 07, 2011 @ 04:14:28

    You could be writing my story here…. okay, maybe skip the Brazil part, but I too have recently started a new journey with yoga at the center. It just feels right. Best of luck to you!


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