Two Dog Tales

About Gentle Yoga and Me

By Two Dogger Bob Scheu
From the Mid-February 2013 Two Dog Newsletter

I came to Gentle Yoga in the best possible way: two years ago Annie led a 4-week class in Little Dog that also included a ½ hour consultation. I had just graduated from two years of Physical Therapy aimed at correcting a lifetime of poor posture and an accumulation of various accidents and injuries; the wages of an active, enthusiastic modern life. I was seeking relief of symptoms that had finally gotten severe enough to overpower my considerable skill at ignoring urgent messages. Limbs going numb and then intractable nerve pain got the point across. PT, done well is miraculous and I had some of the best. My head was no longer four inches thrust forward. But in my ½ hour with Annie, the truth came out: my best posture lasted only seconds. 60 years of slouching had left its mark! 

Soon after, Gail Gensler began teaching Gentle classes at Two Dog on Wednesday evenings. I have managed to be a pretty faithful member of that class ever since. Very early on, we focused on Mountain Pose for several weeks. “That’s a pose?” Yeah, that was me. …I know, I know. As a cook, as a gardener, as a woodworker, as a painter, (even occasionally as a hypnotherapist, my “real” job) there have been countless, thousands of times when I have invoked awareness of my stance, of the flow, of gravity, of breath, of alignment, all utterly based on what “could hardly be more simple.”

Gail candidly approaches teaching yoga from the perspective of one who knows injury, as well as from her own journey as a teacher and student of yoga for many years. The pace of the classes is clearly meant to accommodate people who need to adapt, who may need to make adjustments, who may be moving or efforting or even relaxing in ways that have had limitation, pain and/or fear associated with them. If I weren’t mindful, I might be inclined to want to zoom ahead. “Yes, yes, we’ve done that one.” And yet, each class, without fail, has revealed some nuance, some deeper connection, some better sense of how these words and shapes and sensations relate to something altogether more interesting. I suspect some carefully calculated sequencing of effort and ease, but even so, I have ended each class with a glow of accomplishment, a more refined sense of “being” and “doing” and perhaps the thing that keeps me coming back, a real sense of fellowship, of community.

A year ago, in tandem with more PT (some surprises are better than others: given the option, avoid breaking a big toe!) I decided to add another Gentle class and joined Wendy’s Tuesday class at Big Dog. This is when I learned how much each individual teacher contributes to the richness of the experience. Very different in some ways, yet often working on the same themes; I quickly came to deeply appreciate how much presence and focus (not to mention talent, skill and knowledge) is dedicated to sitting at the head of the class. It is obviously inspiring to the students, some of whom have been coming for years, others for the first time. And now, after two years, I can attest, it may be called Gentle Yoga, yet no matter who is teaching, there is nothing casual, boring or wimpy about it. I have rarely seen more dedication, integrity or fierceness of attention anywhere. I am thrilled and honored to have a place for my mat in these classes.

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