by Michelle Dossett
As the end of Ananda Yoga Teacher Training approached, and I realized that it would likely be six weeks before I would have a chance to lead a yoga class or sadhana back home, I wondered if I would get rusty. Might there perhaps be an opportunity to lead a sadhana or two while I was staying at The Expanding Light over the next month?
It’s amazing how the Universe picks up on our thoughts. The topic came up during the graduates’ celebratory dinner, and the following morning after Sunday Service, Melody asked me, “Michelle, are you around tomorrow morning?” As it turned out, there was a sudden need for a substitute sadhana leader. Although I had led Energization Exercises, chanting, and meditation for the retreats put on by our Ananda New England group, leading postures was relatively new to me. I hadn’t exactly planned to start so soon, but then again, what would be the point in waiting? I was reminded of Swami Kriyananda’s saying, “Say ‘Yes’ to life!” as well as Devarshi’s Sunday sermon the week prior about Sri Yukteswar’s words in Autobiography of Yogi: “So long as you breathe the free air of earth, you are under obligation to render grateful service.” So I said yes. YTT graduate one day, sadhana leader the next!
I set my alarm clock that night, the first time I had done so since arriving at The Expanding Light a month earlier. Though rising early hadn’t been an issue, I didn’t want to be late for my first sadhana, and I wanted time to meditate in the temple before ringing the 6:00 A.M. wakeup gong.
As it turned out, I was glad that I had set the alarm, because I was to need that extra time. I went to the temple to pray and meditate, sat down in front of the dais, facing the altar, and as I began meditating, I felt a wave of anxiety rising within me. Then I remembered Gyandev’s suggestion in our class a few days prior to do some double breathing and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the anxiety dissipated, and I was able to meditate.
At a couple of minutes past 6:00, I rang the gong and then started to set up the room. I rolled out my yoga mat, laid out my flash cards with the routine I had rehearsed the day before, got my props, adjusted the lighting, opened more windows, and refilled the water pitchers. And then I waited. I meditated briefly while sitting on the dais, facing the empty room before me, as a few karma yogis entered the room. I wondered what was going through their minds. They knew that I had just finished the program. Did they realize what they were getting into as this newbie was being inflicted upon them? It felt odd to be sitting there with my back to the photos of the masters of this lineage. But then I realized, they have my back. A wave of relief swept over me, and I knew that as long as I stayed centered, everything would be okay.
I stepped off the dais and went outside to check out the lawn and the rising sun. There were a few clouds on the horizon and it was a beautiful morning. It would be a glorious sunrise and a perfect location to energize.
Well, as they say, the rest is history. Thankfully, the two-hour sadhana flowed smoothly. While I might have done a few things slightly differently, there were no major flops or curve balls. Although I was prepared to skip an asana or two if need be, I ended up using the entire routine I’d planned, and I finished a couple of minutes earlier than I had anticipated. I used the extra minutes for a longer deep relaxation and transitioning to meditation. In the end, the timing was excellent.
As I ended the sadhana with healing prayers, the sunlight suddenly pierced through some clouds and the upper windows of the temple, bathing my head and torso in its bright and warming light. As I bowed before the photos of the masters, I was filled with a sense of gratitude and satisfied with how things had gone overall. Surprisingly, my normally vocal inner critic was silent. “Hmm,” I thought, “yet another example of how yoga may be good for me.”