Asana the Great Teacher by Michael Olivotto
Asana is the practice of letting go. It is the place where we are confronted with our most deeply held beliefs and asked to surrender them to our Highest Self.
Asana is art. It is creative volition. It is physical prayer. It is a lesson of release.
Asana is the Great Teacher that prepares you for your journey, but it is not the journey in itself.
Are you obsessive, don’t worry Asana will show you. Do you feel unworthy, don’t worry Asana will show you. Do you judge yourself and others, don’t worry Asana will show you. But Asana does not teach in the way we are used to being taught. We are used to being lectured at, being told exactly the right way to think, to move, to live. Asana is not a school teacher, it is a loving but strict mentor. Asana will never set the curriculum, it will not tell you no, it simply provides you the space and support to learn whatever lesson you have asked to learn. Asana invites you to take responsibility over your life, to own your existence. Let’s be honest, how often do we find ourselves wishing for something more, asking the universe why me or blaming others for the course of our lives? We are all victims in our own universe, powerless to change, helpless innocents or cruel villains, we are ruled by our fear.
How easy it is to forget that with every moment we have a choice, do I choose Love or Fear? While we have no control over what life throws at us, or the actions of others, we do have control over how we proceed with our life situations. Enter Asana. Upon the mat, life is made so simple.
Here every breath reminds us of our power to choose. I have no control over the postures offered by the teacher, yet I can choose to attend a class or conduct self-practice; I can choose to participate or I can refrain, I can determine the depth of every posture, I am in complete control over myself regardless of what transpires around me. The veil over my body is slowly pulled away and I am able to see all my glorious imbalances, my strength, my weakness. Both my positive and negative self-images are dispelled and all that is left is the raw truth of where I am, the beauty that is my reality.
In this space a mockery is made of my pursuit for external validation. My search for a deeper wheel, a longer handstand, a more harmonious OM does nothing to change who I am at my core. While the external depth of my practice can garner praise and acclaim it cannot change me, unless I choose to open to my Higher Self. It makes me giggle, yes giggle, at the parallel between my mat and my life. Here on my mat, with Asana my beautiful teacher, life becomes so easy to see, to feel, to understand. But, that is my lesson, for now, and herein lies the true beauty and depth of my lovely teacher, your lessons will be different than mine. They will be tailor made to fit with what you are here to learn. So, with no judgement for anyone else’s lessons, embrace your path and find your lovely mentor in whatever form it needs to take.
Namaste my beautiful friends,
“I have been waiting forty years for this one month.” This was the testimonial I gave verbally to Emerson on the day of my graduation from the one-month intensive 200-hour teacher training in January 2015, and I meant it with all my being! “Karma teacher training transformed me, changed my perception of my existence and saved my life.” This is something that I have said everyday from about day 3 on. The experience that I had created in my life was so different then the one my heart and soul wanted to create. Mental health issues and addictions had driven almost all of my familial and personal relationships. I grew up in a fear based home but I also grew up knowing that I was loved and that unity was first and foremost as was service to humanity – a dichotomy I had yet to understand.
“ You are not your story, your thoughts or your feelings”. These were gems that both Emerson and Michael reminded us of routinely. I remember that first day of training. We started off with a meditation I couldn’t silence my fears in and an asana practice that literally brought me to tears. I felt like a farce, a poser, and an intruder unworthy of the scholarship Emerson had provided. The first weeks were so emotional. There were times I cried out of sadness, others out of frustration and sometimes out of habit. Out of habit? Wow! That was an amazing discovery for me. There came a point in training where I was tired of feeling like a victim, tired of being a victim, tired of acting like a victim. I began to ask myself what I was crying for. How were my tears and pain helping me anymore? It was time to stop feeling so much and to start taking more action. “Your pain is just lessons, only hold onto it as long as you need to.” This was one of the messages that Michael gave as he guided us from yoga doers to yogis. I still cry sometimes but I have learned to love those tears and the release and revelations found in the space where they were generated.
We have all found ourselves struggling along our path at some time in our lives. We have all looked for the lifeboat to save us when we felt we were drowning. What I learned is that we possessed our own lifeboat all along – yoga showed me that and Karma Teacher training brought me to its door, walked me in and showed me the space that was always there waiting for me. I entered that studio on the first day with very little yoga experience having spent most of my previous years in my house, shades drawn, sedentary and eating my emotions away. I walked out one month later a yoga teacher.