In September 2007, I attended a yoga teacher training with Seane Corn at Kripalu, a beautiful retreat center in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Tucked into a deep green forest and perched on a hill overlooking an untouched lake, Kripalu offers a picturesque and peaceful setting, helping you to leave the stress of daily life behind and easily slip into retreat mode.
I’ve practiced with Seane twice before, once at the now, unfortunately, defunct Northwest Yoga Festival, and last year at Yoga on Beacon. Seane offers a basic, but powerful, vinyasa flow, infused with yoga philosophy.
Seane is the most authentic teacher I’ve studied with. She teaches from the heart and openly shares herself with her students. Seane is more concerned about teaching her students than impressing them. Despite her popularity, beauty, endorsement from NIKE, and frequent Yoga Journal covers, the fame has not gone to her head. There’s truly no sign of ego. She doesn’t wear name-brand clothes, promote her upcoming offerings during her workshops or trainings, or sell t-shirts, DVD’s, etc. Additionally, Seane truly gives back to the global community. She is the spokesperson for several children’s and AIDS-related organizations, strategically using her status and working tirelessly to raise awareness and money to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
I’m most drawn to Seane because she masterfully blends the teachings of the chakras with asana. Her practice inspires and offers space for self reflection. I had such a powerful experience while studying with her this past month. On the 5th day of the training, during the morning practice, I was in pigeon, a pose, like most yogis, I’ve done hundreds of times. Out of nowhere, issues I’d thought I had dealt with a decade ago began to surface. I felt rage and intense sadness in a single moment. As much as I wanted to release the pose, and leave the room really, I forced myself to stay with the sensations in my body. I know in order to really heal emotionally, you need to feel. If I ran away in that moment (released the pose), I knew it would only be a matter of time before I was presented with the unresolved issue again.
After the practice I went for a long walk in the woods, down to the lake, and watched the water, which calmed me. I knew I’d experienced a release–I felt physically and emotionally lighter, plus I felt like my vision was better and brighter, I could truly see more clearly.
While sitting there, filled with the beauty of my surroundings, I knew it was time to forgive. I asked God to help me forgive. I feel like I have the most open and forgiving heart…IF someone shows remorse and says they are sorry. However, I have a really difficult time forgiving when there is no sign of remorse.
Later, in our group circle, Seane was taking questions. I asked, “How do you forgive someone when there’s no sign of remorse?” She looked at me dead in the eyes and said, “You have to…for your own soul.” As obvious as this may sound to some, her words penetrated me. I realized immediately I needed to forgive to end my suffering and my anger around the issue. My suffering and anger were only hurting me…whether or not I ever sensed remorse from this person, I needed to forgive.
My next question then was HOW? I really was at a loss. Later that evening, I started to journal. In my writing I asked God “How do I forgive?” Within a moment, a question that seemed completely unanswerable was answered. My pen began to move as if on its own, and suddenly the answer appeared. The answer applied to a particular person and situation, so it would not be helpful for me to share it here.
My time with Seane Corn was life changing. For as much work as I feel I’ve done on this beautiful path called yoga, I realize it is kind of a two steps forward, one step back journey. As a doula, I compare the path to the birthing process. During the last stage of labor, as the baby is moving down the birth canal, the mother gives everything she has to help her baby be born. As the hours pass, the baby progresses two inches down with each push, but then retreats one inch. The yogic path feels much like this. Knowing that at some point, in some lifetime, my soul will reach samadhi helps me to stay committed to the path.