by Anne Jablonski~
I just returned from a marvelous vacation in Paris. A friend asked me what I most loved about the trip, and my answer was, "what appeared whenever I relaxed, because it was always beautiful." Every time I remembered to relax a little bit and ask for guidance, we'd turn a corner and some unexpected and magical visual or other sensory gift presented itself.
We'd be walking in the rain on the edge of becoming seriously grumpy about the lack of sunshine and I'd pause just long enough to whisper quietly, "What now?" and BAM! There would be some exquisite scene or experience.
One day we walking down the street, dodging raindrops, and I took a break from staring at my wet shoes to look up and see that we were racing past a store window decorated with hundreds of sparkling little blue ornaments, each catching the available light and shimmering perfectly.
It's so easy to blast straight past a person or an experience that is ripe with possibility.
About eight years ago, during my very first trip to the Feathered Pipe Ranch in bucolic Helena, Montana, I relaxed just long enough and paused just long enough to ask, "What now?" and BAM! There's the magic.
I met Carie Garrett.
Carie is a yoga teacher in Texas. That's a really limited and sterile and incomplete description of who she is, but she is, nonetheless, at least that.
She was and is one of Erich Schiffmann's senior teachers. My first experience with her was when after a long lovely asana class with Erich we were all moving into wheel pose - which had always been one of my "least loved" poses since my backbending, well, it sucks.
Carie came by to ask if I wanted an assist. I did. And as her words and hands guided me gently into the pose, I was absolutely enchanted by her touch. She glided into the pose in a way I never had experienced before. Heart to the sky, Montana Rockies outside the window, and Carie's smiling face. No pain, just joy.
Carie is today one of my dearest and most cherished friends. I'm so glad I paused.
Erich likes to talk about what makes a 'great teacher.' It's not the teacher's ability to parrot what they've learned from their studies or from years of time spent with a master teacher. Instead, the mark of a good teacher is taking the lessons and running with them in the direction that gives the biggest, most joyful, and customized expression of the practice.
Describing Krishnamacharya, for example, Erich talks about what a marvelous teacher he was. "Just look at his students and how each grabbed the thread of his teaching that was most appropriate to them and gave expression that came out in wildly different, but equally marvelous ways." Pattabhi Jois. Iyengar. Desikachar.
Anyone who's spent time with a student of Erich's seems to see the same lovely pattern. Once somone "gets" the essence of "Freedom Style Yoga," the way it is expressed in their own practice and their own teaching looks very different. One of the greatest testimonies to Erich's teaching is the infinite variety of expressions in which it manifests in his students.
Okay. So enter Carie.
Carie's "freedom style" is oozing with Bhakti, the devotional Yoga of the heart.
And next month, Carie is teaching her first Feathered Pipe workshop. As she describes it, it's a "unique blend of Freedom Style Yoga, an intuitive, guided-from-within practice of exploring options and choices in the poses" and and Bhakti Yoga, which uses our emotions and our longing for The Divine as a pathway to the connection we yearn to find."
Yoga is at once a very personal practice and a universal practice. The time is so very ripe for each of us to really go for it. To strip off the last vestiges of resistance to our conscious awareness of our eternal, never-broken connection to all that is divine. I vote we do whatever it takes.
And, if I can be so bold as to make a suggestion - a week at the Feathered Pipe Ranch with Carie Garrett is a nearly guaranteed way to access awareness of this connection. The Ranch holds everyone so tenderly, and Carie's yoga will help plant your feet firmly into the earth so that your heart is free to bust wide open to the sky.
A week with Carie in Montana.
Yes. Do that.