Thanks to Hugger Mugger Yoga Products for publishing some of my blog entries (as the Traveling Yogi). That Shiva Rea Trance Dance experience I wrote about was just half of the retreat I was able to make it to. The next day was Easter Sunday, and Shiva’s playlist was infused with Christian gospel. Surprising and intriguing! She even admitted the music was corny, but asked us to listen to the lyrics. I don’t think of myself as Christian, and have had my difficulties with fundamentalist religion in my past, but she asked us to be open, and who could not be, when a radiant being like Shiva asks it of you? She played music from the Agape Children’s Choir, and even George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord. I will never forget the heart-opening backbend-heavy sequence we moved through to that song. She called the sequence “Prayer Wheel.” The best way I can think of to describe it is a variation of surya namaskar with a deep, heart-opening lunge. Stepping back into the lunge, we raised our arms forward, upward, and circled them back, lifting our hearts. We must have done 108 backbends. When My Sweet Lord moved from the “Hallelujah” portion to the guru chant “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Guru Bramha, Guru Vishnu, Guru Deva Maheshwara, Guru Sakshat, Parambramha, Tasma shri, Guruve Nama,” it was a revelation. How had I never noticed the Hindu chants in that song? Since then, that song has been on almost all my yoga playlists and and George Harrison became my personal deity (followed by Wayne Coyne, after seeing him perform live at Salt Air last month). When I feel down, I play My Sweet Lord and practice the prayer wheel sequence.
At one point during the practice, someone asked if she could sing along to the music. “Don’t ever wait for an invitation to sing!” Shiva answered. So there we were, practicing, and singing at the top of our lungs. It reminded me of the Bhakti Yoga Shala experience where we chanted, or sang mantras while moving through the asanas.
After the morning workshop, Shiva left Moab for Salt Lake City and offered a workshop at Prana Yoga Trolley Square. It was the christening practice for the new studio, and the space was totally packed. And wouldn’t you know it, Shiva taught us the prayer wheel sequence. She talked about keeping our hearts open. You’ve had difficulties, right? She said, looking right into my eyes. But the way she said it, I found myself laughing at the them. My difficulties didn’t seem threatening then. It was as if I was laughing at my foibles, which was a much better place to be than judging and berating myself. The lovely Jennifer Ellen Mueller, one of the owners of Prana Yoga, assisted me into even deeper backbending during the prayer wheel. It felt like she was literally holding up my heart so that everything else could melt around it.