Although most of you know me only as your Kaiut Yoga teacher, no one could be more surprised than I am to find myself in this role. My journey to becoming your teacher has been rather a mysterious process, one that I would like to share with you by telling you about some of the twists and turns along the way. I also want you to know about the vitally important part that you have played in that journey.
So here’s my story:
After nearly a decade of “lost years” in my twenties during which I was pursuing my medical training, I was well into my thirties by the time I found my way to my first yoga class. Because of my natural flexibility, I discovered that yoga, unlike most physical disciplines, was something I was “good at”. I enjoyed the challenge of doing more advanced poses and I enjoyed the vitality I felt after a rigorous class. My yoga practice also served as a lifeline to my sanity, providing at least some measure of comfort to my nervous system, frazzled as it was from the hard work of parenting and doctoring, not to mention the hard work of simply being alive.
This way of practicing seemed to serve me well enough for a quite a number of years, but somewhere along the line I began to feel that something was out of sync between me and my yoga practice. Although I was not aware of any lessening of my ability to do the poses, I began to notice that I stood out in class for being older than the rest of the students, many of my same age peers having dropped out due to injuries or inability to keep up in such rigorous classes. I supposed I was one of the lucky ones who had not been seriously injured doing yoga, but I did begin to wonder whether it was simply a matter of time before I too would have to stop practicing, which would have been a great disappointment to me. What I wanted was a yoga practice I could continue to do for the rest of my life. I wanted a yoga practice I would not have to abandon as I aged, but rather one which could actually deepen over time. So even though I had not been injured and even though I could keep up in class, as I passed my sixtieth year, I began to feel that my yoga practice was not the right fit for me anymore. It had become a practice consisting of putting my body into difficult poses simply because I could rather than a practice which was providing my body with the poses that it actually needed.
Despite this growing discontent with my long-time practice, I stayed with it for lack of a better alternative. That is, until one day, while wandering the aisles at McGuckin’s Hardware Store here in Boulder, I ran into an old friend from yoga, who, like so many others my age, had stopped coming to classes and had dropped off my radar. He told me about an extraordinary yoga teacher from Brazil who had developed a radically different approach to yoga. He told me that this teacher had been coming to Colorado for a few years to teach classes and that he would be coming again but not very soon. When he mentioned this teacher’s name, Francisco Kaiut, I somehow mysteriously knew that this would be an important teacher for me. I jotted down my email address for him and asked to be notified when this unknown teacher was in town.
What happened from there was no less mysterious. Six months later, when Francisco came to Boulder, I showed up to take one of his classes and found myself staying on and signing up for the class to follow, and the next, and then coming back the next day for more. In comparison to the yoga poses I was accustomed to doing, the poses Francisco taught were extremely simple and yet they were quite compelling and often quite humbling. How could I have been practicing yoga all those many years and yet still have so many unexplored areas in my body? And what a blessed relief it was to be moving at such a slow pace, to not be quite literally jumping from one pose to the next. No need for me to work up a sweat first before earning the reward of finally dropping into that blissful place of relaxation for a few brief minutes at the end of class. Rather, I was being directed to find a state of relaxation at the very beginning of class and to sustain that relaxation continuously throughout the entire class, even while working with challenging poses. And in the midst of that relaxation there would come those wondrous moments, catching me completely by surprise, when the boundaries of my body, my mind and my heart softened and began to merge into a singular state of presence. My whole being was saying yes, yes, most definitely yes, to this extraordinary practice.
It has been nearly five years since that day when I showed up to take my first class with Francisco and I have been engaged with the practice of Kaiut Yoga in one way or another almost every day since. In the beginning, whenever Francisco was in town I attended every class he taught in Boulder that my work schedule allowed and even drove to Hotchkiss, a little town on Colorado’s Western Slope that I had never heard of, in order to take more classes. Still, my inquiring mind wanted to understand at an intellectual level what I was experiencing so powerfully in my body, so I signed up for a “teacher training”, though without the slightest intention of becoming a teacher, but rather simply because I wanted to learn more about the practice. (To Francisco’s great credit, his teacher trainings are open to all without any expectation that those attending become teachers.)
Armed with the teaching manual I received at that first training, I dutifully proceeded with the homework assignment: Doing a daily home practice and keeping notes along the way about new insights, understandings and questions. But what started as a homework assignment quickly became an imperative. I could not wait to get onto my yoga mat each day to drop into that place of deep relaxation, nor could I wait to discover something new about the practice each day, whether a small detail about a specific pose or a major insight about the practice as a whole.
One teacher training merely whetted my appetite to do another training and yet I still had no clear aspiration to become a yoga teacher. By this point though, despite the lack of requirement that all teacher trainees become teachers, Francisco was beginning to gently cajole me to begin teaching. I continued to demur, telling him that I was still in “a very long savasana (corpse pose)” after my recent retirement from thirty plus years of practicing medicine and that I was therefore in no position to make any such decision. What yoga teacher worth his salt could argue with that?
And so I continued to do my daily practice. I finished going through the sequences in my manual and then went through them again, and then again. I found myself spontaneously moving into one pose or another at various points during the day and even when I was not actually doing the poses I would often still be thinking about them. I believe I was even doing poses in my dreams. Finally, I began to feel so full up with Kaiut Yoga that I thought I might explode. It was at that point that I had the realization that if Kaiut Yoga really was “ yoga for every body”, that it was time for me to stop directing all of my attention to just one body, my own, that it was time to start allowing that which I was so full up with to flow back out into the world. Whether consciously or otherwise, that was a realization I had been waiting for, the realization that for me, teaching yoga was the necessary next step in a natural progression of diving ever more deeply into the practice.
Not long after that realization I took the dive and began teaching. Now just a little more than one year in with my teaching, I am once more full up, but this time I am full up with joy, because what flows out of me when I teach flows back to me many times over as I witness the sincere efforts of you, my students, and the excellent results you are achieving from your practice.
As to the surfeit of joy from all the good juju you are bringing me, I’m doing my best to recycle that too by infusing every teaching I offer to you with a goodly measure of that joy, giving back to you what you have so generously given to me.
And so the mysterious journey continues – and I am deeply grateful.
Namaste (I bow to you.),