Her name was Susan. She lived in the neighborhood and had taught Yoga for years at the university here and at other locations, as well as privately. She liked working individually and in small groups and was always welcoming regardless of level. I noticed a preference for guiding rather than physically altering the asanas of those in our classes. She would notice what I was attempting and say, "Try this," showing me with her own movement or pose what she meant. Other times, it was quietly positioning a chair in front of me for balance or suggesting I use the wall for support. More often as time went on I would hear, " Very nice" or "Good job."
Her manner changed and re-shaped not only the room but how I felt about both the breath and body work I was engaged in and, importantly for me, altered my perception of my own body from something I often fought against to that which was and remains resilient, despite the rigors of disability, time and injury.
Years have come and gone since our last encounter which was a crisis point for me and a life transition for her. I was in the grocery store in early 2019 when a woman I did not remember approached and asked whether I had been one of Susan's students and then told me Susan was gone. She offered no details and shocked and distracted, I did not ask. I dropped the melon I had been holding, and this woman and a store employee cleared the resulting mess as I apologized profusely, then made my way home...
I think of Susan often during these pandemic days when I struggle to sleep and find some help in meditation and breathwork. My most recent attempt at a formerly frequent standing pose led to a face plant as my right knee gave way Uninjured but for pride, I peruse the plethora of Yoga books and videos now available looking for a regime of sitting asanas to do in my bed beyond the confines of this chair.
A small sachet of lavender hangs from the knob of a kitchen drawer, a long ago gift from Susan. Yet. beyond just this small reminder. I have the gifts of her spirit and resolve to share and teach.
Namaste, from my spirit to yours.