As an active Facebook-er, information about yoga events around the world is pretty easy to uncover. So when I found out what seemed to be too-little-too-late about an incredible opportunity for me as both a yoga teacher and an ashtangi, I was stunned. It happened entirely by accident; I was checking out David Swenson’s website and stumbled upon a link to the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence Conference, featuring my teacher, David Swenson, as well as well-known and respected Ashtangis like Tim Miller, Richard Freeman, Eddie Stern, and Nancy Gilgoff… not to mention some other pretty incredible teachers who were assisting the masters.
HOW DID I MISS THIS?! Four days of puja, practice, practice, and more practice. A night with MC Yogi performing live (his mat was amongst us during the weekend, too). Mysore. Second Series. Lectures. Oh, and did I mention? It was taking place in a beachy enclave just north of San Diego. By the time I inquired about the event, it had been entirely full with hundreds of people on the wait list. *hmpf*
Since I’d already decided I was going, even without knowing how, I continued to stay in communication with one of the organizers. I offered to help with set-up, take-down, (wo)manning a table for them. Just about anything. I’ve organized conferences of different sorts in my “other life,” and knew all the work that went into them. I’d happily help out if it meant I could practice with five of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’ original students!
About two weeks before the conference kicked off, I gave it one last shot. I’d need to book a flight from BOS to SAN, find a place to stay, etc. What are the chances someone actually decided not to go? Apparently, they were pretty high! I heard back right away, as someone had literally just canceled. *happy dance*
It’s hard to put into words what the experience was like, but I can tell you that if felt good to be on the mat as a student, gleaning knowledge and wisdom of the highest variety from each of the teachers.
On the last day, Eddie Stern told us during a panel discussion that he went to Encinitas on the break to see Manju Jois. As they reminisced about the good ol’ days, another student of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois showed up with a photo album. Eddie said he was moved to tears as he felt like he was experiencing the best kind of family reunion… and that the family was expanding (referring to those of us in attendance). Given that this conference took place while the Anusara scandal was unfolding, it was nice to know that the lineage of Ashtanga yoga was being held with the utmost integrity–and that I was part of it.
I came back feeling like I was on the right path, hoping that the students who show up to my classes leave the mat feeling that this practice is a gift. Both one that we receive by way of lineage and tradition, as well as one that we give others who come in contact with us, as we move through life with just a little more grace and presence.