The New Year is inevitably a time of looking over the past year and reflecting on its highs and lows. I am fortunate that many good things came into my life and 2017. I am surprised and delighted that right at the top of my list of ‘Good Things That Happened in 2017’ - alongside my daughter’s high school graduation, our move to Fort Wayne and making so many wonderful new friends - is the Fresh Start Basics Series I took at Fusion Yoga.
I have been practicing yoga four or five times a week for almost five years. I signed up for the Fresh Start Basics Series mainly out of curiosity about what the classes would teach. Half an hour into the first session I knew I had joined something special, something that could very well move my yoga practice in new directions.
The knowledge, skill, depth of experience, passion for yoga and generosity of our teachers (Mary, Laura and Celeste) astounded me. There were five other students in my group, ranging from beginners to people with years of yoga practice. Our instructors seamlessly read what we needed - individually and collectively - from moment to moment and class to class. As a result, the series captured the best of one-on-one instruction and a small group class.
Near the start of our first session I realized that every minute of our three 90 minutes sessions would contain something I could add (or take away) from my practice. So I decided to take one thing away from each of the sessions, to try those for a while and then to take the series again. I simply do not have words to explain the difference my three takeaways have made - both on and off the yoga mat. A month and a half after our series ended I am still amazed by the difference it makes to begin grasping:
Everything starts with tadasana (Mountain Pose);
How to roll my shoulders down and back; and, best of all,
What it feels like to have the soles of my feet completely connected to the ground.
Those points may sound ludicrously basic. Anybody who has been to three yoga classes has probably heard all of them. I chuckle at the thought of how many times I have heard those cues and thought I understood them or that they were trivial. For me they are not. They are completely foundational. And they have transformed not only my practice in the yoga studio, but the way I walk, the way I stand, even the way I lay down.
Of course those are not the only things I took away from the series. I feel so much more confident in every single pose than I did before. I am by no means claiming that my yoga poses have become things of beauty. (Not by a long shot !) But I feel like I might be starting to understand which parts of me should be working, and - at least as importantly - which parts can relax in my postures. These principles of alignment and breath have helped me feel more confident and perhaps better able to understand what my instructors are trying to lead me to do in class. I do not think it was pure coincidence that since taking the Fresh Start Series I have felt able to practice yoga on my own at home every day.
Above all, I have found the wisdom Mary, Celeste and Laura shared liberating. I no longer feel obliged to strive so hard in my practice, to be so egotistical about my alignment and depth in each posture. Instead I feel able to take from each pose and each class what my body, my mind and my spirit need. Sometimes it’s time to push a little more. Sometimes I need to back off. Sometimes it’s time to experiment a little bit. This freedom feels fantastic!
I can not say just how you will improve your practice with the Fresh Start Series. But I know the series will help you. I am completely confident that the Fresh Start Basic Series will enhance the practice of anyone who takes the series. I wish all of my fellow yogis could take the series and see how it works for them.
I want that badly enough to make this promise: If you take the series, go to all three classes and do not feel the investment was worthwhile, tell your instructor. They know how to find me. I will send you the $75 the series costs. Neither Celeste nor Mary (or anybody) else knew beforehand I was making this guarantee. I am doing so in the hope that it may remove an obstacle getting in the way of more people experiencing this remarkable class and the talent, wisdom, passion and generosity its instructors bring. Go ahead. Take the series.