I think the year was 1999. A friend suggested that I try ‘this’ new Yoga place. Walking into this Hatha Yoga class, I had no clue as to what was going to come next.
I came in wearing a sports bra and sneakers, and had my water bottle filled up. I remember walking into the room and sensing most pleasant smell, dimmed lights, candles along the perimeter. I was gently told to leave my sneakers in the dressing room and to remove my socks and then, I made a decision to submit into the experience.
The mat was already on the floor, awaiting. The instructor was pacing across the room, trying to make everything ‘perfect’. She had her long, wavy hair pulled up and the back of her neck revealed a beautiful tattoo which caused me to make a mental note that I must get a tattoo on the back of my neck too and it further span into a whirl of thoughts about the type of tattoo I should have on my body and into further contemplation that tattoos are permanent art work, and when I change my mind about having that particular piece of art on the back of my neck, I won’t be able to change the tattoo. She introduced herself as Lakshmi. My mind became bizarre further. What is Lakshmi? What kind of a name is it? I was completely infatuated with this woman.
During the class, I remember stretching in all different ways and yet everything was almost effortless. I wasn’t listening, I was observing her every move. Toward the end of the class, she guided us to lie down in corpse pose and to surrender into the mat. She walked up to me and asked if I wanted to be covered with a blanket and I agreed. There is something very special when another person covers you with a blanket. She sat at the front of the room and maybe she chanted? I might have fallen asleep for a few minutes. When I opened my eyes she was reading a piece of some kind of Yogic philosophy about being happy in life.
I clearly remember that I had never in my life felt this sense of peace before. It was so subtle and filled my heart, and my entire being, and it radiated out of me a few feet to the front and back and all around and below. I think it was then that I fell in love with Yoga.
I practiced Yoga with many teachers, at various studios, at different ashrams, and even in different countries; yet, it was never enough. I always wanted more. Whoever said to learn, read; to know, write; to master, teach- I was in ‘another’ meditation session when this particular insight came to me. I left that class, which a friend of mine brought me to, with a realization that I would become a Yoga teacher. I felt crazy and yet it made complete and total sense! A moment of clarity! A moment of Bliss! I finally knew what I wanted to be when I grew up!
My teacher’s pure perception of me, just as I am, made me realize that I am more than what is seen through the eye. The invaluable Yogic teachings, which are known to be more than 5,000 years old, transmitted to the rishis, tell us that we can all know our true inner nature- not just a guru or a monk, and not just the Buddha- but me and you too. The True-Self is beyond time and place, beyond gender, beyond form or nationality.
I don't have 30+ years of experience teaching Yoga and I have not been to India to study with a guru... I am only 34 years old myself! But I do have a passion for studying Yoga and I try to pass the teachings I that I receive from my spiritual teachers, books, and trainings to those that choose to share their practice with me. Om Shanti.
Om Om Om
Rukmini, Manasa Yoga NYC