Friday, October 05, 2012

Oct 5 - Photo a Day - Shadow

A Life in Balance

Introducing Ms Tara Porter, my glorious yoga instructor, lifting her powerful heart to the sun as her shadow rests in repose on the cork floor.

Over the past year, I've been attending Tara's Friday Yin/Yang class at Ottawa's downtown studio, Rama Lotus. Recently, I've had the opportunity to go more regularly, which I'm convinced is part of my more elated state of mind.

Yin/Yang, as the name implies, is a balance of active and passive asanas (poses), the perfect transition between the work-week and weekend (not that many weekends are actually passive.) These hour and a half long classes, led in a seemingly effortless flow (which we all know takes years to master) are so much more than a dance of strengthening movement and muscle-lengthening stretches.

Tucked alongside her mat on the raised dais, Tara always has a small stack of books with marked pages. In the second half of the class, once she has guided us into our yin asanas -- supported poses held for maybe five minutes -- she reads us short gems of wisdom as we breathe and soften. Rumi, Mary Oliver, and others' words follow our long, humming exhales of Brahma breaths.

Those reminders of the power and bliss available to us, if we only remain open, seem always to come just at the moment my shadow-mind starts to tighten or pick up some daily-life worry or struggle. They bring me back to the breath and encourage even further letting go. And I have always loved the nurturing feeling of someone reading aloud.

While it is hard to choose the best part of this practice, the final piece is right near the top. You see, our Tara is a singer. With each of us resting under blankets in corpse pose -- the ultimate relaxation asana -- this lovely yogini pours out beautiful Hindi songs of universal peace and healing. I can't understand a word beyond "Om" and "Shanti," but I feel the intention, and drift on her superb voice as it rises and falls with each of her well-trained exhales.

I've practiced yoga with more than a dozen instructors in numerous cities over the past, often nomadic, thirty years. Some teachers I've joined for only a few sessions, some for many. Each has had a unique style, and a small handful have made deep, resonating impressions. It feels as though I am sinking roots into life here in Ottawa (at last), and my hope is that this young woman continues the practice of sharing her talents with us for many, many years.

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