The power of deep listening
“When you inhale, you are taking the strength from God. When you exhale, it represents the service you are giving to the world” – B.K.S Iyengar.
On August 19, I was one Jason Bowman’s assistants at Grace Cathedral when he taught the Yoga On the Labyrinth class, stepping in for Darren Main. I had never taken the class before nor had I ever entered the place of worship. I didn’t know what to expect.
Suffice it to say I hadn’t expected to see over 600 souls – old, young, novices and seasoned practitioners of all walks of lives and faiths – gathered in a single place to practice Yoga.
The class began and Jason spoke of the power of deep listening – of simply being interested, watching how every inhalation and exhalation changes the direct experience of living in our bodies. He invited us to close our eyes and use our ears to ‘see’ the sounds still present and to savour the aftertaste of the single OM we chanted together.
The class was slow-paced, not physical in the least and yet delicious. As Jason’s voice filled the room, the resounding echo gave his instructions a rich and heavenly tone. The stained glass windows, colorful streamers, singing crystal bowls and soft chanting, combined with the steady cadence of breath of so many people, exuded an ambiance that was awe-inspiring and unique.
As I walked around adjusting people in the simplest of ways, I heard them say, “Thank you”, “This feels so good”. Sometimes, they said nothing at all and smiled. I hadn’t done much; mostly a light touch on the back, the shoulders, or a gentle word.
In a world where we loathe to be touched, where we have in many ways become so disconnected from one another, we still crave to be close to one another, to be touched, to be acknowledged and to know that wherever we come from, whoever we are, we too matter.
During these 75-minutes I found myself closing my eyes many times, exhaling, relishing the gift of being present in a wondrous space, blessed to be able to share a spiritual moment with a community. Goosebumps. I am thankful to have been given the chance to give something back and grateful for my teacher and for those who came before us to make sure we could practice that evening.
Grace Cathedral will be hosting the second annual Yoga for Change event this Saturday, September 6th from 8am – Noon to raise funds for The Community Preschool. Yoga Tree Teachers Darren Main, Mark Morford and Jill Abelson will be teaching. For more information, visit yogaforchangesf.org.
About Emilie Mikulla
Having contracted a major case of wanderlust at a young age, Emilie has lugged her suitcases around the world, working as a travel journalist, and recently moved to San Francisco from Dubai.
Emilie is a Pilates and RYT200. She is currently completing her 500-hour advanced training at Yoga Tree. When Emilie’s not on her mat (or on a Reformer) or putting pen to paper, she can be found sharing her passion for movement, and chocolate, with her three-year-old son Max. Learn more about Emilie at www.emspen.com and on Facebook.