This evening marks the end of Day 3 at the Midwest Yoga Conference, and I’m exhausted yet totally ecstatic. In fact, I’m high on the last three days of joy I’ve experienced here. Jonny Kest, his family, and their studios put this conference together every year. They bring so many great teachers together for a big slice of yoga pie. It feels like coming home, and I’m just really very happy to see everyone. This year I decided to spend less time in my booth and more time taking classes and getting to know the teachers. That was such a good decision, I can’t even tell you. It’s important while running a yoga business to remember how much I love yoga, and the thing that helps me remember is getting on the mat.
Today I took my first class in Acro-Yoga with a super-chill guy named Joe Barnett – I am already addicted… call it “Love at first flight.” I am a pretty big guy, so while it’s fun for me to fly, I’m more suited as a base. But this means I get to fly all sorts of amazing people and now that’s literally all I want to do. Joe did an awesome job of getting us all — a room full of strangers — quickly comfortable with touching and being touched; trusting and being trusted. Even though most of us had just met, we felt like old friends after just two hours in the room.
This morning I learned the 5 Tibetans from Chris Kilham, someone who really understands them. This is something I want to do every day! They are supposed to make you younger, and for a guy about to turn 60, Chris is terrifically agile, upbeat, and youthful. These teachers are proof of how well yoga really works!
Day 2 was recovery for me. I woke up so sore from my Day 1 intensive, I probably wouldn’t have taken any yoga at all except that Les was so cool and casual I decided I had to take his class – more Vinyasa Basics. 3 seconds into my first down dog I was already regretting my decision to take another class, but Les made room for my exhaustion by granting permission to the class in general to take Child’s Pose instead of Down Dog whenever it felt necessary. I was in the front right hand corner of the class – visible to all. I left that class holding the record for greatest number of Child’s Poses ever.
As someone who studies and loves Iyengar Yoga, I have to say it’s nice to cut loose every now and then, hear some gritty, groovy, or rockin’ music, and be allowed to try and fail and have fun! Les truly makes a single class accessible to all levels and this class was filled with all kinds of yogis. I learned as much from his direct instruction as I did from watching him work with other people. The teachers who are invited to teach at these conferences really are a cut above. We are lucky to have access to them the way we do.
On day 1, I took Brock and Krista Cahill‘s “Breaking Down Sun Salutations.” It was an all-day intensive, and I really thought it was going to be an easy, basic class. In hindsight I’m not sure they’re capable of one of those. I’ve never worked so hard, hurt in so many places, and been so happy all at once! Brock and Krista are one of yoga’s sexiest couples. They are also amazing teachers. They specialize in being upside down, but they don’t want people to get hurt, so they showed us a lot of rather thorough preparations along the way. They also brutalized us with a broad selection of toning and strengthening yoga moves — each of which stretched and strengthened while they made us smile. I retired from Day 1 wanting nothing more than to shed 50 pounds and dedicate my practice to floating with the greatest of ease. I’m determined to try.
Tonight I had dinner with Kia Miller, Krista Cahill, and Les Leventhal. We ate at Taj Mahal, a truly delicious Indian restaurant I love so much that Les and I ate there last night as well. The four of us laughed ourselves through dinner, which took a while to arrive but was so good I would probably go again tomorrow night were I not leaving town. The thing that struck me the most was that all of these teachers like to take each others’ classes. They are a giant loving community who all know each other, worry about each other, and care for one another. They have an enormous amount of mutual respect and yet they’re all to some degree in competition. It’s a beautiful lesson in abundance consciousness. Les said he loves taking classes because it reminds him of what drew him to yoga in the first place – his love for being a student.
Tomorrow morning I’m going to try to take Kia Miller’s course on mantras. She’s amazing so I’m sure the class will be amazing. I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes!