Two weeks in Fantastic Florence, Italy flew by like the bat of an eyelash. Florence deserves its own blog, which I will write about soon. Needless to say, I leave this trip coming home with so much more than I could have ever imagined.
This trip was unique in that my studies with Senior Teacher David Meloni is the heart of why I made the journey. I believe resoundingly, in the power of the eight limb path of yoga. It is a system that enables a stable & organized body, clear mind, and an ability to observe and overcome our own habitual patterns that keep us from our highest potential. This is part of how I grew into the best version of me. Steady and consistent practice over a long period of time brings transformation inside and out.
I came to the decision to visit David, strictly following my intuition. As some of you may know, I was born with a body that is non functional. Further, the way I was then corrected by doctors to fix the problem of my legs and hips, truly only led to a life of pain, inner struggle, and later, a resolve to find my freedom.
The classical method of Iyengar Yoga does much to unlock and reorganize the body to move well and safely. I practiced mostly in this way the last 4 years, but it brought me to a place that required yoga therapeutic work to conquer the core dysfunction of my pattern. I spent much time working to understand how to solve these issues, but upon meeting David, I knew I needed his masterful eye.
David is B.K.S Iyengar reincarnate. He is clear, precise, direct but kind, down to earth, caring, and approachable. He is always smiling and he chats with his students and there is no divide. He is humble, working right alongside his students and always offering different and creative ways into the poses. After speaking with him just briefly, I knew I was in the best expert hands. As the quote I used above says, “teach from the heart, not the brain alone,” Guruji meant that as to teach directly to the students in front of you. Teach to their issues, struggles, shortcomings and problems. David embodies this as my first Iyengar teacher also taught me.
David is an anomaly. In 1996 he began practicing IYENGAR® Yoga.
Since 2003 he returns regularly to Pune India, to study at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute; he studied with Guruji B.K.S. Iyengar (until 2014 when Guruji passed away) and studied and studies with his children Geetaji and Prashantji.
In 2013 B.K.S. Iyengar conferred upon him the “Advanced Junior level II” certificate.
In 2015 Geeta S. Iyengar conferred upon him the “Advanced Senior level I” certificate.
In January 2018 He have been awarded by Geetaji of the maximum level certificate in the Iyengar Yoga “Advanced Senior level II”, He is the only one in the world to have obtained it.
I hoped David would embody the way Iyengar sought endlessly to solve his students problems, and he most certainly does.
After my first class, in which he observed me closely, I returned for David’s weekly therapeutic class. There were a handful of older people and then, yours truly. He had a sequence ready for me that was designed specifically for me. Everyone was practicing their own sequence and he was like a hawk, in the sense that his eyes seemed to be everywhere. He missed nothing and lovingly offered adjustments to all of us when needed. I felt like he knew my body from the inside and all the issues I had, he was able to address.
Everything was therapeutic and restorative. I felt so seen and safe in his presence that I could trust him fully. In fact, during my savasana with neck traction, I had a flood of memories from childhood. I don’t remember much from those days, and I don’t know why, but it was the strangest thing to be reliving these moments again, so unexpectedly.
I walked home that night and cried. I know part of it was a rejoicing that my gut instinct had been right and I was thankful to have followed it. And part of it too, was a deep emotional release, which was wonderful because we hold memories and emotions in our bodily tissue.
The next day I returned for two group classes. The first was full and it was centered on back bending. The presentation of advanced poses was done slowly, with thought and care. He could see my struggles and was right there to offer a different way into the pose and, at times, told me not to go further.
The subsequent class was less full and immediately he noticed that I needed to have my own program and proceeded to teach the group and me, simultaneously, yet separately. This feat, naturally, is extremely challenging as the instructor must split his attention in two. The new sequence consisted of twists and forward folds.
Every adjustment was so important because it was the exact thing my body didn’t want or know how to do. He told me to focus on the one or two things in each pose he called the priority. While I was twisting, he came and helped the part of my spine move deeper to release the gripping I endure constantly. In forward folds, we figured out my abdomen must be supported for my back muscles to release. Then, the slow process begins of teaching my legs the right actions, but without working in the abdomen or back. This will be an ongoing practice for me until I am healed.
Every day I could feel major shifts and more intelligent action coming alive in my body. The discomfort and pain, a little less, and a feeling of an understanding of where my arms and legs should be in the sockets. Every class I found myself doing more than I thought I could, and even found a way to work back into headstand. I felt he was choosing poses and ways to work in the poses that was specifically for me. I didn’t think to ask if this was true, perhaps maybe it was my ego? However, after the end of my last class with him he said to me, “ I gave you as much as I could each class.” Again, I felt like weeping. I have studied with numerous teachers and have only experienced that kind of love and care with one other instructor. Certainly, it takes a great deal of skill to design a class that is both interesting and challenging to all, yet inclusive of its weakest link.
As an Iyengar Yoga teacher in training, I know how important it is to find the path into the poses. The poses that we aren’t great at, hold a key to heal us. The genius of the Iyengar method is how it is applied to bring about the correct result for each student. This also brings about the drive to always keep moving forward.
David and I discussed how important it is the listen to our students concerns and think outside the box of classical teaching to solve problems. He said Guruji was always inventing new things to help people. This is my approach when teaching too. David is my Senior Teacher now, and I will return regularly. Additionally, I will offer a retreat to beautiful Tuscany for students to practice directly with him. He loved this idea! And incidentally, mentor, on this side of “the pond”, who is also Italian, is bringing him here in 2019. How lucky are we?!
All I have absorbed here with David, I look forward to sharing with you all through classes and private sessions. My mind has been opened in a whole new way and I’m letting this new light pour in. Listen to your body. Cultivate that inner quiet to hear your own needs and then follow your instincts. Know that I want to solve all your problems, and through my own healing, can do so much more with you. I send so much love to you all. Thank you for allowing me this time to heal, rest and discover new paths for us to tread together.
With love & gratitude,