Written By: Jenna McMahon, RMT
Only two weeks ago, I returned home to Winnipeg after attending the Wanderlust Festival Oahu. Since March of 2007, I have taken big bites out of the journey toward becoming, and ultimately being a yoga teacher. My travels and studies for the last eight years, near, far, and wide, have all been directed towards bettering myself as an instructor.
By attending the Wanderlust Festival I celebrated my journey of returning to my own studentship. What a blessing it was to fully turn inwards to face myself head-on; to take a breath and more than a moment to serve myself, instead of others. The classes that I took, and the space and time I spent on my mat were not meant for bettering myself as a “giver” of yoga, but rather to better myself as a “receiver”. How easy it had become to forget how to be a balanced “receiver”, after so many years of being an RMT, Labour Support Therapist, and Yoga Teacher.
I committed to pushing my own personal boundaries long before I even arrived at the festival. Months before my departure, I registered for classes that were out of the realm of any studies I had taken before. I signed up for others that I knew would scare me, and those that had nothing to do with anything else except filling my own heart to the brim.
It feels naked but incredibly authentic and honest to share here and now, that this time in Oahu also serendipitously edged on the two-year anniversary of a car accident that completely altered my landscape, as I knew it. While I had never planned for it, I flew home on the very day it had taken place two years prior.
The aftermath of the accident had dealt me a humble five weeks of bed rest, more prescription pharmaceuticals than I had consumed in my lifetime, and a total of two and a half months away from my wellness centre. My return-to-work program was slow, and in total from beginning to end, it amounted to six months. By the time I was approved to teach again, by corporate yoga contracts had moved on without me, and my prenatal yoga program no longer had momentum, not to mention a venue to hold it in.
During my rehabilitation program, I had used yoga as part of my healing process. How humbling it was to be doing modified postures that my prenatal students would likely have taken on with ease. What a beautiful gift it also was to return to my mat with a “beginner’s body”, and in turn re-tap into my “beginners mind”.
Thereafter, the times that I visited my mat became more widespread. It stayed rolled up in the corner or tucked away, and the answer to the question of why was out of reach for me. Like a faithful friend, I knew in my heart that my practice was waiting for me, but time apart still felt like the only thing I could muster. Yoga had been part of my life for as long as I could remember, and yet now it was the last thing I wanted to do.
Then it hit me: I had forgotten how to be a student. My passion for the art of yoga had taken me to a place where I wanted to share it with others. As an RMT who always wanted to empower others on their path to health and wellness, it seemed like the perfect avenue to open to them. How ironic it is now to realize that during the time when I was the most connected to sharing with others, I was the most detached from sharing with self. As I believe “the practice” of yoga creates a microcosm for daily life, I humbly came to realize that I had fallen into the very human pattern of giving too much away. With mat unrolled, I returned to a home practice and ventured back out to the local studios and yoga community I had once so adored. Spaces that had unknowingly been depleted began to fill again, and my mat and my heart remained open.
Now there I was. On the north shores of Oahu, surrounded by so many I didn’t know; an anonymous face in crowds of others. Not as a teacher, but as a passionate practitioner of this amazing art. Sitting in reverence of the tutelage of teachers I had only known through DVD’s and books, with a heart so wide open and ready, and a soul destined to expand.
I am so often asked when I will return to teaching, and like the elusive answer I was waiting for from my rolled up mat, that truth is yet to be fully revealed to me. The beauty in this experience is that like the practice that patiently awaited me, the bare feet which I wore as a teacher will always be there too.
In Grace. With Gratitude. Namaste.
***To my amazing team who made it possible for me to journey so far away (extra special shout-out to Leigh-Ann!), as they all took care of everyone at Equilibrium: Thank-you.
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