I often spent lengthy portions of class curled up under a blanket, too weak to participate. I remember needing the full 90 minutes of instruction before I could draw one real breath. The mantras might have turned me off -- but for once in my life I was in too much pain to have an opinion. Instead of chanting, I just listened. Every so often, during meditation or savasana, I would experience a moment of...I don't even know what to call it. I can't really describe it as relief, but it wasn't worse than how I already felt (nothing could be) and that was enough.
I kept going back.
I noticed that Tanya did not seem intimidated by my extreme condition. After I had been attending her class about six months, I worked up the courage to speak to her. I didn't even know her name. I felt self-conscious about the state I was in and offered not to come back if she found my presence too disruptive -- it's not easy to meditate when someone next to you is racking with sobs. "I like seeing you in this class," she said. I could hardly comprehend such patience and acceptance but I could tell she was utterly sincere.
I kept going back.
Tanya is the reason I felt like I could "do" yoga. She was the ambassador of the Golden Chain of teachers who "held the space" for me each time I brought my anguish and despair to the mat. She is the person who encouraged me to become a teacher.
Given these sad beginnings, the fact that I subbed for Tanya on Friday was a miracle if ever there was one. Miracles do not only come in the form of burning bushes, or water turned into wine, or dramatic ascensions into the heavens. Those are simple stories told over centuries -- but they fail to communicate something more complex and personal about the phenomenon of transformation. Miracles germinate in the commitment shown day after day, hour by hour, to show up and be the student or the teacher, to receive the breath that is taken so for granted, to make room for inconvenient and unpleasant needs. As Guru Singh points out, it isn't attractive -- but through great courage and given the opportunity, a blessing may evolve.
And, so, as I faced a room full of Tanya's students, holding the space and guiding them through the yoga and meditation I struggled through many times before, I felt in my heart that an eight-year metamorphosis was complete.
Thank you, Tanya.