Over the weekend, I spend a lot of time on the yoga mat. I love how life has brought all these amazing teachers into my life. Of course, the path has not always been smooth and without discomfort, but if it was, there wouldn’t be a story to tell would there? This weekend, we had the privilege of being taught by Les Leventhal http://yogawithles.com/. If you get the chance, please don’t miss it.
This wasn’t my first time attending classes taught by Les, but it was my first time attending his progressive class and workshops, and it was the first time I actually spoke to Les. This man is amazing. He’s only slightly taller than my 5’2” but he’s got the presence of a giant. Coming into the room, he is all heart, literally. He says that his chest is so open because he’s got a fire in him and meets things front on, but I believe that it’s also because he’s such a giver that he meets things heart first. This man with the brilliant eyes and great life force just takes a three hour class and makes it feel like it’s half an hour long.
On Friday, this man challenged us. Those people who snuff and say that yoga is easy, oh how I would love to get my hands on you! My foot was seizing up and everything from my upper hamstrings to my glutes were in spasms. Les made a few jokes and I fell out of a side plank and a few other poses from laughing so hard, I went into resting positions for more than a quarter of the class and my arms were so sore it was unimaginable. What a rush!
Saturday, he cracked our hearts open, made us laugh and even made me cry. He challenged us not only to face the good side of having our hearts open, but also the dark side. We were taught to acknowledge all the things that our parents/teachers/religions taught us that we should deny or hide. Hate came out to play, so did sadness, resentment, and pain. Laughter showed itself, but so did tears. Well mine did anyway, I don’t know about anyone else. Emotions went from one extreme to the other, but somehow stayed in the same place. Les says whatever feeling comes up, it’s not permanent. It’s not ours to hold on to. So we love or we hate, we accept it, then we let it go.
Broken down, challenged and tried, of course I went back for more on Sunday – an Arm Balancing Workshop. Although I’m doing my Teacher Training this year, arm balances are a big challenge for me, and I go into them with a lot of fear and dread. Vicki http://www.facebook.com/vicki.smart who has taught me for years can vouch for this, but then she’s also tricked me into a Pinchamayarasana (forearm balance) a few times. It’s an amazing person who can get people to feel safe enough to face their fears, and so Les sits in this category.
In a challenging class, it’s not so much getting there, but losing the fear of falling that we are learning. And where I am now, there is a lot of fear of falling, not just off my own arms, but falling in love. Like and arm balance challenges a yoga practice that has momentum, is growing and expanding at a steady pace, so falling in love would disrupt my life schedule. But like an arm balance, where you need to fall and be disturbed before you can find your momentum, so falling in love does with life.
Les has taken me on an entire journey in three days. He reached out and I took his hand to being challenged, opened and thrown around. I am sore in places that I never knew existed, but in my head, there is Les’ voice asking, “how’s your breath?” and “how’s your life?” He asked us to change nothing, but he invited us to take note. And that is it. The essence of truth and the biggest lesson – How your breath and your life are intertwined. And then, he said, “I love you,” and you know what? It’s not that complicated. After three days, I can honestly say, I love you too Les. And yes, I will get a new yoga mat ;-). Perhaps I’ll even let myself fall in love. Terima kasih Les. Namaste.