Flowing with Sarah Tomson Beyer

It has been a long time since I blogged, and I'm sorry. The blog took a backseat to moving and a work deadline. Practicing yoga even went on pause for six days. It was not pretty.

But I'm back. I'm practicing again, and I'm even meditating. So let's start this post off with a confession. I was wrong. So wrong. Wrong, wrong and wronger. I mocked teacher Sarah Tomson Beyer a few months back. I couldn't stop myself. Her video with the fans blowing her blond mane around, the mesheekyness of the little skirts worn over yoga tights, everything about her branding turned me off.

But then she showed up in Seattle, I practiced with Her Mesheekyness, and I am eating humble pie. Sarah, I was wrong, and I'm so, so sorry. I love you.

Sarah was much more unassuming in person. At first, I didn't recognize her. She wore very normal black yoga clothes, although the mesheeky skirt should have tipped me off, had no entourage and didn't resemble the blond goddess on her website. She checked with all of us to see if we had any injuries and gave a nice, warm talk about herself and her life in Park City, Utah and how an isolated, small yoga community helped unleash her authentic, creative self. She was down-to-earth and totally relatable.

Then we started to move. We started off with a lot of stretching before she brought us into her flow. She's not big into breathing with movement and instead wanted us to breathe the way that came naturally as we moved. Her sequencing was creative, inspiring and freeing. I could see Shiva Rea's influence in the way she moved and it was stunning to watch Sarah show us the sequence in its entirety as she rolled elegantly around the floor in her yoga dance. We took away the mats for the peak flow, and I felt so open in my body. I am inspired by teachers like Sarah who are able to really get us out of our heads, unleash our inner creative physical being and to help us just let go.

I loved the class so much, I almost succumbed to mesheeky. I live in my yoga clothes on weekends, and I don't like running around in yoga tights post class, with all my "bits and pieces hanging out" as Sarah says. The skirts were cute in person, and seemed like a good solution. But $58 was a bit steep for a coverup. I drank the Sarah juice, but just half a cup.

Anyway, the point of this post is, Sarah is still making a name for herself so you should practice with her if you can. She doesn't travel nearly as much as the big master teachers, but when she does, her classes are small (ours was only 15) and also affordable. Check her out before she gets swept up into the big time and the only time you can practice with her is with hundreds of other people at Wanderlust.


Day of silence at Bastyr University

Hi cute turtles. These turtles are the unofficial mascots of Bastyr University. They can be found in the school's courtyard. They clearly enjoyed Saturday's sunny weather along with the rest of Seattle.

I traipsed out to Bastyr in Kenmore Saturday with a yoga block and cushion packed in a bag, ready for my introduction to a full day of meditation. Our Day of Silence was the culminating exercise in our introduction to meditation series I've been taking the past six weeks. I wasn't sure if I would love it, but I was interested to see how I would respond to a full day of silence. Would I be bored? Would I get irritated? Would I hate it? Yes, yes and no.

The thing is, the Day of Silence wasn't all that silent. I only spoke out loud twice over seven hours, so I suppose that is rather quiet. We spent most of the time alternating between a half-hour seated meditation and a half-hour of walking meditation, which I always did outdoors. We had a break for lunch, and I ate alone. But when you spend all your energy focused on being present, there's always something to listen to. The wind gusting through the trees, different kinds of birds chirping noisily, the crunch of gravel beneath my shoes, cars driving in and out of the university and the sound of other people.

How did it go? I definitely had moments when I was impatient. I sometimes tired of paying attention to my breath or to every step as I walked and would look at my watch and sigh. I succumbed to sleepiness a couple of times. By the end of the day, I was more on the side of cranky than blissed out.

And yet.

Teacher Rodney Smith points out that boredom prevents a return to simplicity in life, that it is kind of insane that we are bored so easily when life in its present moment always has something riveting to offer, that meditation allows us to live a continuous life instead of one that is always about living in the future or living in the past. I know he's right. "The basic ingredient of meditation is patience," Rodney says. Being patient is hard.

At the end of the day, a man who had been in a group session with me introduced himself. I had asked about a particular kind of Metta meditation, where you repeat a mantra. It is tough for new people, and I wondered when I would know I was ready. Larry said he has been meditating for 20 years and he still struggles with it. Wow. It was reassuring, if scary. I knew it would take longer than six weeks to master meditation, even though I sort of secretly hoped that's how it worked. Instead, I know what is ahead - returning to seat and my altar over, and over, and over again.


The start of a meditation practice

It was hard not to be in a fabulous mood this morning in Seattle. The sun was shining fiercely, I taught an early yoga class, and I had a fun, flirty sundress on (truly, you can't underestimate the importance of fun sundresses in life.) I practically danced on my way to work. But by midday, the weather had turned, and my mood had turned sour with it.

One of the toughest topics that has come up in meditation class is dealing with emotion. Teacher Rodney Smith has been talking to us about learning to sit with emotion instead of blaming moods on others or situations. Think road rage. If you're angry about a bad driver, you can blame the other driver, stew and get pissed. Or, you can let yourself feel the anger instead of blaming the other guy. Once the driver is gone, the rage will pass.

I do that all the time - the blame part, not the letting go. Today, I blamed lame things for my mood, like a friend changing plans. I could just as easily have thought of the very long list of things that are great in my life, but picked wallowing. If I had done it Rodney's Way, I would have let myself feel out of sorts, placed no blame and let it pass. Why? To live a conscious life and to see how much control we have over our thoughts. In a conscious life, we're aware that we cause our own suffering. Stay connected, stay conscious, take responsibility for your own suffering and the way you see the world will change. I really like thinking other people make my life hard. The problem is I know better.

Tonight was our last class in the intro series, and I am having a little separation anxiety. The good: no more meditation homework. The bad: no more meditation class. Thankfully, we still have a day of silence Saturday at Bastyr University, with seven hours of guided meditation, and I am nerdily excited. I was also happy to learn Rodney leads guided meditation Tuesday nights for more advanced practitioners. It's kind of amazing, but in six short weeks, I no longer can see a life without a weekly meditation practice. I already knew I was a yoga junkie, but am officially adding meditation junkie to the list. 
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr