“What’s a Yoga Immersion?”
I had the great pleasure of hanging out at Pizza Express with some of the Yoga Hero tribe after class on Tuesday. Four yoginis sharing their stories over pizza and chamomile tea. There was some big news around the table and the girls asked me what mine was. Nothing really, although I did assist on my teachers’ immersion this weekend. “What’s an immersion?” asked Jen. Damn good question. What, indeed, is a yoga immersion?
On the last day of the first four-day weekend, storyteller, yoga teacher, and potentially my secret muse, Bridget Luff, talked to us about water. We were exploring Svadisthana, the second chakra, located right in the middle of your pelvis. Svadistahana is orange, represents creativity, the element of water and is also known as the home of the self. Bridget’s mother is a Christian Mystic and she draws on the imagery of anointing to weave together a story of immersing yourself within the Self; diving deep into an experience that will bring you home. Abhinava Gupta, the big Daddy of Kashmir Shaivism, also describes the moment of awakening as Samavesa, which too means immersion.
First: Immerse in the Self
In order to awaken we must be immersed in the Self – that’s the big ‘Self’, not the contracted, identified small self. (Say what? Ok, so there’s this big Self, which you might describe as consciousness, pure awareness, the bigger part of you that is also a part of everyone else. We all be human, right? Same species, same planet, same position in the universe. Same but different). Getting immersed in this bigger picture is hard in our daily lives because we have to walk around as our identified self, wearing the clothes we wear and doing the job we do, thinking the thoughts we think and having the beliefs and opinions we hold. Which really is all well and all good but what a yoga immersion does is give you the time and space to meditate, contemplate and inquire into what lies beyond all that other ‘stuff’. You also do shed loads of kick-ass-blow-your-mind asana with three-hour workshops that blink on by with the shake of a seahorses’s tale because space and time don’t exist anymore.
Peeling back all the layers…
I dived into the immersion two years ago, as it was a pre-requisite for my teacher training. To train with this particular faculty, I would have to come to know myself, my ‘stuff’, my shapes and my shadows before I could even begin to instruct a Virabhadrasana II. It was pretty intense. And utterly life-changing. Someone was not only telling me that there were layers and layers of conditioning but they were helping me to carefully peel them back in a way that felt entirely safe. I was given permission to unfold whilst being held by beings who were so rooted in their intention that I could experience what it is to be vulnerable. Truly, for the first time. When and where does that ever happen? Especially while you’re having fun, chanting, practicing, sharing, connecting, hanging out in hippety-hip Shoreditch and doing loads of yoga?
Assisting on the immersion was a powerful experience for a number of reasons. It’s almost exactly two years ago since my first taste of this magic so it means a lot. Big things have shifted, happened, manifested, and been pulled out of my top hat since. Two of my dear friends and students were also on the course, so my heart was in my throat, knowing the mixed feelings of excitement, terror, revelation and ecstasy they were subject to. And, quite frankly, it was plain old trippy at times. Leila and Bridget transmit at such a high frequency when they teach that I was stoned out of my mind from just being in the yoga room. It was full-on psychedelic and I don’t know what realm the students were basking in but I was legal yoga style H>I>G>H to the highest.
If you get the chance, immerse.
I’m not sure if that clears anything up, but if you get the chance, immerse. It’s an invitation to wake up, go deeper into your practices and not only discover the true meaning of yoga but the true meaning of yourself. Leila breaks it down with a little more panache and a few less words here. You can also learn more about the teacher training, The Practices of Leadership and Empowerment, which begins at the end of September. Hit me up for more info or email firstname.lastname@example.org