Saturday, June 9, 2012

Guest Post by Linda McLean: In Search of Kripalu: A Yogi’s Journey to Find the Heart of Perennial Wisdom
 T he other day, I remembered the face of a friend I have not seen since I started my PhD. He stood barefoot and laughing in front of the lead-pane window of the yoga studio, a dozen wiry wrinkles fanning across his hollow face, mapping his story in ways he never quite spoke, but I extrapolated. After we parted ways, my serpentine recollections of that yoga class took on a cinematic quality, a life of their own that I'm sure contributed well towards the development of my own wrinkles, those physical inscriptions of the days we spent together. Though time has passed, I still find that I still carry on an internal dialogue with that 'laughing man', responding and reacting from a greater distance, just as I recall the faces of so many others who shared that class.

I think this is what friendships do. They create conversations - not just between yourself and the other, but between yourself and your multiple selves till you've become so porous that all kinds of people live "under your skin." Sure, people move on... yet you keep talking to them out there on the fringe, hearing their voices.  Maybe that's what the man from Galilee meant when he apparently said, "Wherever two or more are gathered, I am there?" Or, perhaps Raman Maharshi's words are useful here, "there are no others." And so it is, that I remember a conversation I recently shared with my dear friend Linda McLean.

(Linda McLean)
Linda McLean, MEd, CYT, is a singer songwriter and dedicated yoga practitioner. She’s lead singer and songwriter in Linda McLean Band, co- owner and operator of Mandolin Records, and has written and recorded and promoted 4 albums of original music. She’s teacher-trained in Alexander Technique, and has integrated and taught this unique body awareness principle while working as a professional actor. She has a Masters of Ed from OISE/UToronto, specializing in Holistic Learning and Arts Education, and was a founding faculty member in Seneca College’s Independent Music Production program, developing courses in Songwriting and Artist Development. She completed her yoga teacher training at YogaSpace in Toronto, and yoga massage at Ahimsa Wellness Centre in Muskoka. She teaches early Saturday morning Vinyasa at Sacred Breath Yoga studio in Muskoka, shares Vinyasa Wednesdays at YogaSpace in Toronto with her yoga teacher friends, and has opened a private studio in Toronto where she works one-on-one with students to help them develop a personal practice and integrate yoga into their lives.

Our conversation happened on one of those unusually warm first days of spring that turns the streets of Toronto into a frantic parade of flip-flops and daisy-dukes. (We in the northern climes seem to lose it at the first sight of the sun). That day Linda had come to take the yoga class I teach on Tuesday mornings; as we crossed the street wondering whether we could abandon boots for sandals, she said with unusual prescience:

"We will still get another snow. We always do."

I suppose Linda would know. She leads at least half her life up in the north country and she speaks as if she's long known the panorama of Ontario's protean seasons and its transitional storms. Speaking likewise in rural swells and intuitive horizontals, Linda happened to mention that she would be doing a Kripalu retreat the following week and I jumped on the opportunity to have her blog about it. As you will see, her guest post for this blog takes you where all conversations with friends lead: to those places you couldn't or wouldn't journey alone.

It also turns out Linda was dead-on about the weather. It wasn’t a week before we got another resounding gust of winter.

  In Search of Kripalu: A Yogi’s Journey to Find the Heart of Perennial Wisdom

by Linda McLean, M Ed, Songwriter and Yoga Teacher

I ’ve been reading Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga and find myself practicing pranayama continuously as I wind my way along the Mass Pike through the Berkshire mountains to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. “Follow the movement of the breath in the body, feeling the inhalation from the center of the collarbone, down through the rib cage to the diaphragm, and following the exhale upward from the abdomen.”  The attention on breathing brings me perpetually to a still and grounded place in my body, even as I’m hurtling along a major US Interstate highway. The technique neutralizes for a time the endless mind chatter, and my thinking becomes like a translucent line flapping across a screen, until, forgetting my breath, the thoughts resume, and I’m once again preoccupied with trying to figure out what I’m hoping to ‘get’ during my stay at Kripalu.