A Farewell Class for Beth

When International Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Govinda Kai was leading a weekend workshop at Living Yoga last year, he suggested that someone in our community travel to Mysore to become certified to teach Ashtanga Yoga. I asked Beth if she was interested and she immediately, and enthusiastically, said yes. As soon as the Living Yoga Community heard about Beth’s trip, students generously donated money to help out with the travel expenses. Beth also taught additional yoga classes and added extra shifts at her restaurant job to earn money for the trip. And here we are less than a year later and after a full day of travel from New Hampshire to India; Beth arrived in Mysore late last night.

As one of my farewell offerings to Beth, I wanted to lead a very special class with her favorite music, her favorite chant and her favorite postures so she would feel the essence of the Living Yoga Community’s love and support as she prepared to leave home for two months. I spent much of last Saturday morning preparing for the 9am Sunday yoga class. I have been teaching yoga for more than 8 years and it is an uncommon event for me to prepare a class in advance. Usually I determine the focus of class by receiving requests from students, taking into consideration how I feel on a given day (upbeat, introspective, energetic, low energy), grounding myself prior to class and then connecting with the energy of the students as they arrive and as class is set in motion. Most days this approach works out perfectly.

However, for Beth’s class I wanted to plan the music, the sequences, a meditation segment, a chant and end class with a special reading. Beth requested Utthita Hasta Pandangustasana (Hand to Big Toe posture) and Urdhva Dhanurasana (Backbend/Wheel) for the asana (posture) portion of the class, so I included those into the flow of the class. Because I know Beth has an injury (well, a sensitivity) and she would be spending the next day on two different airplane flights for a total of 16 hours, I thought it would be important to have the class be less challenging than the typical Sunday morning class. Consequently I decided to add a couple of restorative postures, take some time to be still and focus on our breath, practice meditation at the beginning of class and end class with a long-lasting Savasana.

As I said in my first blog entry “planning is good – not a thing wrong with it – as long as we are not attached to the outcome”. I was not attached to the outcome of Sunday’s class because what I know for sure is that when my intention is to lead class with love and compassion with the expectation that students will leave class feeling relaxed and renewed, then that is likely to happen. At Sunday’s class we did not practice a restorative pose or pranayama, as I planned, and it did not matter – the collective energy created in the class and the way we all felt as we left the practice room, that is will be remembered. And when Beth is in India I want her to be reminded that the Living Yoga Community is with her in spirit. We are thrilled to be a part of her yoga journey to India and we look forward to what she has to teach us upon her return.

If you are interested in reading about her experiences, she will be blogging about her journey on http://www.travelpod.com. (enter in search: bethaimelabonte – all one name, no spaces).

Peace, ~Maureen xo

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