The city of Durham, NC is experiencing a yoga explosion. We offer a lot of yoga here, from Patanjali’s Place, to Ride the Breath, Bull City Yoga…and of course my yoga home Samadhi Shala–there are numerous places and spaces to practice and a variety of teachers to learn from.
Another studio just opened today in downtown Durham– Durham Yoga Company– and I had the opportunity to take a class from a talented and passionate anusara teacher, Olynda Smith. It was the second class the studio had ever offered– and the place was jam-packed! Wow! How incredible to see so many different people coming together to experience what this practice could offer.
Although Anusara is not my practice, I think it is important to support and encourage yoga in a variety of venues and styles so that people can find what speaks to them. Like religion, ethnicity, even political parties (gasp!) I find when I practice yoga in a style that is different from my own– I experience more connections than differences. Whether it is alignment based, flow style, kundalini, or ashtanga– the practice of yoga always returns to presence. Being present in your body, in your breath, in the sensations in your toes, or even your inner gaze— what spiritual teacher Ram Dass calls “being here now.”
Olynda shared a quote from Tara Brach, a Buddhist meditation teacher and psychologist during this morning’s practice. She stated that “Presence is the purest form of love.” She explained that when we are present to the moment, everything in our lives becomes richer. We experience things more fully; smell smells more strongly, see colors more vividly. And that was when I had my “aha” moment, when the practice and the teachings came full circle.
When we are embracing the present moment, and whatever that moment may bring, we are practicing love for ourselves. And that is a rockin’ realization right there! Just by showing up for myself, my thoughts, emotions and experiences—I am loving in the purest form. Wow.
Somehow by grounding through the four corners of my feet, and following the rhythm of my breath, I learn how to love more purely and more fully. I have known for a long time that practicing yoga has helped me to be a better person, and now I am starting to realize why.