In compiling bits and pieces for this website, I found an article I wrote after I studied with Shiva Rea the first time. I considered rewriting it but decided to leave it as it was when I wrote it, fresh from the experience! That immersion showed me what was possible and really ignited my passion for being a “river guide” for others. Enjoy!
“Learning to Surf” – reflections on training with Shiva Rea
Anybody I’ve spoken with about my training with Shiva Rea in July/August will have heard me use phrases like “inspiring”, “amazing”, “life-changing” and various other effusive terms to describe the experience. Now that I’ve had a couple of months to process what I’ve learned and I’ve begun to pass it on to others, my awe and my gratitude for the having had the opportunity to spend 120 hours in Prana Vinyasa Flow training continues to grow.
This training was exactly what I needed when I needed it. I am forever indebted to Nicky Knoff and James Bryan for the firm foundation their certificate training provided, to Lynda Miers-Henneveld for the vast knowledge, love and support her wise mentoring offers and to the wonderful family of Wellington yoga teachers and students with whom I am fortunate enough to explore yoga on a regular basis. All of those influences plus my continuing quest for self knowledge prepared me for the boundary-shattering experience that was Shiva’s training.
For a couple of months before I went to Shiva’s training, I was in a place that felt tight and constricted. Emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, everything was at low ebb. My personal yoga practice was less than satisfying. Looking back now, I can see that it was because I was practicing someone else’s yoga. The truly life-changing aspect of Shiva’s training was not her ingenious method of sequencing or her fabulous technique or the wonderful music (although all of those things were amazing!), it was the way she helped us to find the keys to any cages in which we had locked ourselves.
Shortly before I decided to do more training, a wise person told me that she thought what I needed to do was to “Let go”. I agreed with her and so I tackled the problem with all of the strength and intellect I could muster…and I got nowhere. It seemed that “letting go” was not something one could just tackle head on. Sure I could relax my jaw or sink into a long shavasana but what I wasn’t able to do was stop my monkey mind or relax my grip on my world-view.
And so I arrived at Shiva’s training at a very low point. Without exploring the why’s or the how’s, let me say that I was literally a shattered, crying, jet-lagged heap on the floor of the California hotel room just two hours before I was meant to arrive for the first practice. I managed to haul myself, by sheer force of will, the four blocks to the Exhale studio where the training was held. There, I found myself in a room that was sweltering hot (California was in the middle of a heat wave and Shiva doesn’t like to use the air conditioning) with 80 other people at 6:30 in the morning. Sweat was rolling down my back, my body was aching and my spirit was crushed. I had no idea how I was going to make it through the two and a half hour practice that was to come, let alone the next two weeks of intensive training.
Without very much fanfare at all, Shiva arrived, began to play some music and started us on a movement meditation. From there the practice continued with unfamiliar sequences and super-challenging postures but somewhere during that grueling, fascinating, strange and wonderful experience something in me came loose. It’s hard to describe the feeling of moving in perfect time with 80 strangers through a newly learned sequence in the middle of a California heat wave enveloped in a sea of sound but suffice it to say, one really has no choice but to let go.
I left that first practice utterly changed and exhilarated. To be honest though, that was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Over the remaining 117.5 hours that was left of the training, I was to be taken on an absolute whirlwind of experiences, inundated with information I will be absorbing for years but most importantly of all, I was allowed to step out of the cage in which I had imprisoned myself and my creativity. I learned at the absolute deepest level of my experience that being strong (emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally) must be balanced by being flexible.
One of Shiva’s training modules is called Fluid Power and another is called Embodying the Flow – I think those two phrases speak volumes about the way of being that I’m learning as a result of this training. Reflecting on the characteristics of water you immediately come up with the softer side – smooth, flowing and rhythmic – but water is also dynamic, energetic, and very powerful. The challenge for me is to be strong without being rigid. Paradoxically, I’m learning that the more fluid you are in body mind and spirit, the more powerful you can become in all of those areas. I find as I am more able to embody the qualities of water the more I am in a constant state of “letting go”. Surfing life’s currents, if you will.
~article by Kelly Fisher