The words below are taken from Sandra Sabatini’s book, ‘like a flower, My Years of Yoga with Vanda Scaravelli’
The photographs are all my own but if you buy Sandra’s book there are wonderful photographs throughout.
I have now been practicing/living yoga for 20 years and at the beginning all I wanted was to work my body on a very physical level, just as I did at the gym. I did know that yoga had much more to offer as my father had various books about the house which I had dipped into but at that particular period of my life it was enough, so I thought, to simply stretch and twist and pull and push my body into various shapes. It did occur to me to wonder why after every yoga class I needed to sleep for several hours. This was not an afternoon nap. This was a total collapse of my whole being!
As the years passed I began to listen to my body and stopped forcing it into submission. The right side of my body has always been tighter but because I am intrinsically flexible it would irritate me to find I could never get do as deeply into that side. A combination of age, Sandra Sabatini and finally Ana Forrest have resulted in an evening out of my pelvis and an unravelling of my hips. My lower back has been freed and as Sandra says it has often felt like the unfurling of the petals of a flower.
It is always about compassion and a deep listening to how I am and how I feel. Do I feel frustrated, panicked or angry as I move on my mat? Breathe more deeply and stay with the pose and feeling and then what will happen? It is also about trust. Trusting what my guts, my intuition is murmuring about.
That is why I love being taught by both Sandra and Ana. Sandra totally slows me down and gently eases my awareness into the stuck bits as she strokes her hands softly down my spine or cups the back of my neck. Ana encourages me to really get right in there and stay put in the pose for as long as it takes to feel! As the days pass and move into years my body simply keeps opening itself out from the very centre.
When in a Forrest Yoga class the revelatory moment may well be accompanied by a huge release of pain or a lion roar that clears the the toxic holding in some deep corner that I did not even know existed. And so there are these two teachers from totally different places and yet, for me, it works to listen and absorb their wisdom.
The words that follow are Sandra’s;
‘Vanda often said that a revolution was needed to restore yoga to its essence. Her radical approach required continual awareness of all that is going on inside from the moment we begin to discern that gravity is everywhere….
It is true that we unwittingly resist it all our lives. Vanda taught that when we become aware of it, gravity becomes an ally, a resource that we can call upon, and the gift to discover and learn how to use it should not be confused with any other gift….
From this contact with the ground Vanda drew inspiration to guide us and awaken in each of us the wish to play with the sense of gravity every time we came to an exhalation. Vanda often used the image of a flower and showed them to me growing brightly coloured and innocent in the fields around her house. To become like a flower that grows out of the ground, gets longer, blossoms and slowly withers. Silent as a flower, beautiful, modest as a flower, with that indescribable movement of opening from the centre, revealing all the beauty enclosed within.
This opening of petals is the movement that we meet in the palm of the hand, on the sole of the foot, at the top of the head and in other centres of the body when the breath and the awareness touch.. It is the movement that accompanies us every time we allow ourselves to open, trusting in the new.’
Time spent being taught by Sandra results in my walking away with a huge sense of peace, a deep feeling of coming home into me. I never experienced Vanda’s teaching first-hand but feel very privileged to have spent days in the presence of Sandra. She slows me down, calms me and smooths away some of my jagged edges. Her book is a delight and I often sit and simply open randomly and gaze on her words.
If you have yoga in your life and you are interested in evolving around and with your yoga then Vanda’s ways are inspiring and many Scaravelli-inspired teachers are carrying on with her amazing understandings of yoga and the body….
May your journey be full of passion and inspiration and may you find joy and happiness whilst on the mat.