Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rea of Light

I was standing outside in a sunset, my bare feet on soft grass, rocking my hips back and forth and wondering what the heck is this new-age California surfer girl going to teach me?

Shiva Rea's workshop, Tending the Heart Fire, was my farewell to the institute this weekend. She is known for her intense Vinyasa-style classes, her windblown hair in her many DVD's, and is kind of like the celebrity Barbie of yoga teachers. Consequently, my cynical mind was ready to roll its eyes.

On the first day she took the clock off of the auditorium wall and asked us to go outside to experience the brilliance of nature while doing a flowing arms gesture and circling over our bent knees. When I started to walk outside, I turned to look for my friend and Shiva Rea looked at me with this look of surprise, as if she had seen me before. She peered intently at my face and then held her hand to her heart. My involuntary reaction was to bring my hands together into namaste.

The workshop turned out to be a sweaty, touchy-feely and awakening weekend. Not only is Rea thoroughly versed in the classical aspect of yoga, but she as down-to-earth as could be. We talked about her music after class one day (African drumming, temple sounds in Varanasi, you name it) and she joked with me as a friend. I guess I've been jaded by the "VIP's" that I've interviewed who usually make me "walk and talk" as their eyes shift and they move on to their next step.

Her asana (pose) class involved dynamic movements of Agni (fire), 108 pushups, 90 degree cobra bends and the like. My "heart fire" was definitely roused. Her background in dance was apparent but I enjoyed the variety. Today we will embark on three hours entirely of back bends.

A central idea in her workshop was the electromagnetic field of the heart. Scientifically, being within ten feet of someone else will bring your heart beat and theirs in a conversation, a sync. It's like when you're around a hyper person and you suddenly feel anxious or excited. A large part of the experience was holding hands and interacting with your neighboring yoga mat. We spent ten minutes staring into someone's eyes and laying on each other's laps while she read Rumi poems to us. It was like nap time at Montessori school and it felt so good. I'm so blessed to have friends and family who like hugging and kissing and squeezing.

It is my last day at the institute and I am going out with a bang. I wanted to devote this post to the workshop so I will write once again about my departure.

And by the way, for my 2 readers (mom and pop?), there is a huge drought in commenting on this blog.


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