There was a time in my life where I was absolutely miserable. I hated everything around me and felt I’d done a horrible job setting an example for my children, which really got me more than anything.
I decided I was ready for a change and thought the solution would be simple. I needed to learn to meditation. Well, that came later but what I found changed my life in many ways. I found yoga. Yoga has filled my soul more than anything else I’ve done and those moments on the mat have been pure pleasure, no matter how difficult the class or how simple and nurturing the class.
For some reason, I left my practice behind and haven’t done much with it the last few years. I have no excuses nor will I try to invent any. I simply left. I focused on what I needed to change and made some pretty major changes.
In any event, I’ve started doing yoga again and, after class on Monday, someone asked me about the teacher training I did at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis. It brought back so many wonderful memories of rich, life-changing experiences and I’d like to share some of them with you. While this is the first in the series, I use the term series loosely. I don’t have a set plan for writing these. I just want to share when my heart tells me it’s time…
“I want to sing the songs that open doors of perception and give us permission to step into our true nature…which is fully alive and totally awake.” ~ Suzanne Sterling
I met Suzanne at a workshop several years ago. She was providing support for Seane Corn as Seane led us through an extended weekend of yoga classes at a retreat. It was a powerful weekend, where many of us found ourselves experiencing profound emotions during class. It was a weekend of love, of tears, of growth, of deep stretching and of connection.
30 of us did yoga several hours each day, and in between those classes, spent time in nature, ate great food, had henna tattoos, readings, played the occasional game of sex pictionary (which I think someone just made up to add in an element of laughter) and listened to Suzanne share her beautiful voice, accompanied only by the deep sounds of the harmonium she played.
We listened to stories of her journey, hard times and damaged vocal chords, bringing her to that day, full of life, sitting in Ugg boots and a warm sweater amidst the cool Minnesota air. She spent time teaching us how to be in our own voice, lacking strain and discomfort, to avoid our own damage and yet share from the depths of our being.
Her soulful style, rich with spirituality and passion, resonated with me instantly. Soul on Fire is my favorite song. It begins with a simple drum beat. Light and airy music with a Celtic sound is woven in like a tapestry and then the tempo quickens, then softens, and, with an occasional and slight vabrato in her voice, she begins to sing…
“Why is the sky so blue today
Why can I see through to the other side
Why do I call your name when I need to
Why do I only see you when you want me to
Why does a dream seem like a reason to go on living
And why do I even care
When the world seems so crazy
I need to know that I live and let go
Because my soul is on fire…”
The words continue to flow while the steady beat remains in the background along side the quiet electric tune. The chorus feels intense, vibrant and alive. I feel a reverberation of the music deep inside me. I have to move.
“I could take my robe, my staff and walk away
I could give my life up to spirit every single day
I could climb the wildest mountains
I could give everything away
Gonna walk in the sun
Find my freedom
Beholden to no one
And able to love everyone
Want to thank you for turning me on
I’ll be singing myself, singing myself back home
Because my soul is on fire…”
She moves into a Sanskrit chant, bringing to life one of the three sacred languages, in a way only she knows how. The strings of an instrument being played in the background adds to the beauty of her words.
“Om ma he ja”
She chants of the expansiveness of the Universe; filling her soul with greatness, with passion and with fire.
Her voice and the soundscapes that surround it fill the air and enter me.
I feel the expansiveness of the Universe.
I feel full of greatness, of passion, of fire.
It truly was a magical experience and recalling it here reconnects me to that magic. Her lyrics above describe how yoga makes me feel inside. I have a renewed connect to my yoga practice and am looking forward to integrating it into my daily life.