"It was an honor to stand beside her."
I would rather have feedback than flowers. It tells me I'm making a difference. On the last night of the Unfolding Your Wings 200 hr teacher training, Caroline had students gather around in a circle for closing ceremonies. She started by acknowledging my efforts as her assistant in the TT. I was den mother, crisis counselor, excursion coordinator, hotel liason, yoga teacher, practice coach. Much of this was done behind the scenes. She acknowledged every detail, she honored my intention and I knew she felt my commitment to be of service. I believe that we all just want to be seen and heard, or more importantly understood, and Caroline understands that. She then went around the circle and let students share anything they wanted to complete the experience. It was a lovefest and every student had his or her moment. After each of the 7 students taught their Bali flow and tested out, she put her thoughts into a FB post. It was a testimonial of sorts and a bit of a love letter. Caroline has a way of sharing that isn't like a bitter pill you have to swallow. She asks if you want feedback and then offers it with only the intention to help you find your way. She doesn't even point you in a particular direction but is always willing to help navigate the course. I realize she was the only person in that yoga studio who didn't receive the gift. And while I am thoroughly convinced she has superpowers, there is a tender human being inside who might just need to be reminded of the magic seeds she planted. As her assistant for the last month, I watched her give endlessly as if she were a bottomless pit, and nobody is. Every morning started with a 2 hour practice which she led weaving in whatever anatomy or principle would be covered in the curriculum that morning. After breakfast, there was a 3 hour classroom style session and then lunch which provided an opportunity to digest. The first week we met as a group most days and by the second week, she was spending private time with each student in hour increments all afternoon. Time could be spent talking, or practice teaching or fine tuning or goal setting. So her days began at 7:30 a.m. and she went until 9:30 p.m. with a few little breaks in between. I am happy to say a few of those breaks I mandated in my official capacity as assistant or my unofficial role as dear friend.
Her training manual was 11 pounds of everything she knows and believes to be true about yoga . It was a labor of love. She dedicated 13 months of her life to putting her heart and soul on paper. I know this because I have been doing my 300 hr TT with her and every time I arrived at her home, I would find her chained to her desk with books piled as far as the eye could see. This training manual included everything students would need during their training and a lifetime of information and inspiration for them to have as a resource upon return to the "real world". I consider it the ultimate party favor. But she always said, the best way to learn yoga is to get on your mat.
Students were teaching on Day 1. They learned to listen to each other in group discussions and learned how to give feedback that felt honoring. Every time she shared thoughts, she always ended with," Do you have anything to add Cathy?" She acknowledged my presence and my value in every way. I have never met another human being more committed to excellence in her profession or her personal passion. Her talk is her walk. She is humble in a way that is almost disarming. In her presence, I step into a place of honesty and self exploration that is inspired purely by the example she lives and breathes. Her listening skills are impeccable. That may be one of the most valuable things she has taught me simply by demonstrating. Silence can be far more powerful than any word in the English language. She is wickedly intelligent and has spent the better part of the last 2 years putting in 14 hour days reading every article, book and reference she could get her hands on. This shines through while she teaches. Her understanding of the human body is evident every time she lays her hands on a student in a posture. Just like her, they are gentle and strong. She is intuitive and she knows the body because she has used the last 5 years as an apprenticeship and spends about 3 hours a day on her own mat. She "dorks out" on the dry stuff and makes it come to life. There wasn't one session of the TT students would have wanted to miss. Her knowledge of the sutras, the anatomy, the sequencing and the practice are stunning. What amazed me the most is her ability to read the room and let go of her "plan", even if it was painstakingly prepared. The genius of private sessions every afternoon came out of the realization that people needed to break up the day and interact in a different format after all morning in class. She took it upon herself to schedule out students so they each had several 1 hours opportunities to utilize her as a resource. Caroline never claims to have the answers. She defers to a student's sensibility. What is best for you? As long as a sequence is safe and intelligent, she is willing to be flexible on its content, even in the flow students used to test out. Her willingness to let the experience be tailored to each human being in the room, translated to sheer joy for me to watch. I am a wiser teacher because of this experience. I am a stronger student and as a human being I have grown in ways I've yet to define. It was an honor to stand beside her. I will carry her words and kindness with me as I know the 7 students who graduated will. Every time they step on the mat, she will be somewhere inside quietly cheering them on her own sublime way. I continue on my own path willing to let the magic unfold as I return home. Caroline always has a trick or two up her sleeve. As she moves to Maine to fill her heart and soul, I know there is more. With every twist and turn, she has created a new opportunity and reinvented herself . I cannot wait to see what's next. When you aren't attached to the outcome, life really does become an adventure of our own choosing. To my teacher, I thank you for lighting the way and giving me permission to be who I am every time I step on my mat as both student and teacher. Doing my 300 hour training with you one on one has been an enormous personal growth experience and at the same time, I have stepped into my own sunshine by letting go of old ways that didn't work. To my friend, I will always be right be your side and a phone call away. I'm keeping my passport handy in hopes that we get to do this again one day. Thank you for opening my eyes to the world I live in and taking me along for the journey of a lifetime. Your soft voice and gentle strength made wings unfold in their own place and time. All the while, you stayed the course. As you head to Maine with Mr. Two Bits and Gabriel, know that you leave behind a community who is changed by your grace. I hope you will carry us with you in your heart. May you find the peace and love you so readily dispense to all of those who are lucky enough to have been your student and inevitably, your friend.