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My Garden of Yoga


It’s that time of year when Heartwood is in bloom. Each day I marvel when I walk into the garden and see a swatch of color that wasn’t there the day before. While I was sleeping, one plant or another has reached that pivotal stage where it is ready to open and, suddenly, a flower is before me, revealing deep levels of beauty and a familiar design that, if I look closely enough, is unique from all others. I know witnessing this beauty is fleeting, so being in this time and place to see nature unfold humbles me and I am honored to have had the exposure to something so intimate and remarkable as this act of a single flower evolving to a state of grandeur .

I walk pass these flowers, smiling at their beauty-enjoying how pretty they are, and yet, even so, because I have a certain expectation about what I will find in the garden each spring day, I am never surprised by the arrival of blooms. Blooming is what flowers do this time of year, right? So, even in my state of gratitude, on some level, I still take the beauty for granted. I am enjoying flowers, yet missing the true depth of the miracle of seeing a flower bloom. In the picture above (which I took a few moments ago), there is a bee on the flower to the right. Looking at the image, did you notice this extra detail, or did you see only the expected, pretty spring flower?

Like flowers, yoga students bloom. They come to Heartwood to learn. I teach them all the elements of yoga that they are required to master to be certified by Yoga Alliance. I try to go deeper and add even more poignant elements in the training with hopes that a more expansive program will help the lessons of yoga infiltrate into their hearts and minds and embed deeply within. When this happens a subtle (or not so subtle) transformation occurs. Thanks to the universal science of cause and effect, the evolution of a yoga student inevitably means that the entire world shifts a little bit because this student will now go forth and interact with others in a more yogic way. Their life choices shift a bit, and the steps they take from this point on land somewhat off of the course they might have walked without the yoga experience affecting their gait. Everything – the entire world- is different after just one person embraces yoga in an authentic way because each and every one of us impacts every person, place and thing we encounter in life. And how we encounter others makes a difference. And this in turn affects how those individuals will encounter others and so on and so on…

I am a pretty good yoga teacher, or so I like to think. Therefore, this inevitable blooming of a student’s heart and mind never surprises me– like flowers in spring. Together, we have put in time and effort to explore yoga so, naturally, they are destined to evolve. I’m deeply honored to be a part of this process, but even so, to some extent, I take for granted that each of my students will transform and bloom, so I’m not particularly surprised by this  happening. As the yoga training course comes to an end, the students often profess that something profound has happened in their world, and I smile knowingly, as if to say, “Yea, that is how it goes….”

I must take care, least I miss noticing that small something special that is happening under the obvious, because, just like my flowers, witnessing a yoga student unfolding in beauty and understanding is an exquisite work of nature worthy of deeper attention. If I take for granted that every student is simply going to be more yogic, I don’t notice the remarkable detail that might be right in front of my eyes – the unique and individual new yogic identity that has suddenly manifested and is unlike all others. I don’t want to just see a beautiful flower, and I certainly don’t want to see it through the eyes of a gardener taking credit for his or her green thumb – I rather look closely enough to notice the bee on the flower and ponder the miracle that the act of a blooming truly is.

Each student’s time at Heartwood is fleeting, and after we have enjoyed our time learning together, it is appropriate they move on to other places where students of their own await their influence. I always feel a little let down when my students graduate, for I miss what they add to the place while they are here, just as I miss the flowers when the seasons change. I am a gardener, and without me and all my hard work, I guess I could boast that there would be no flowers on our property, and yet, I can’t really take credit for the beauty of these flowers. Each plant has a life, a color and something special to add to the environment – and though I get all sweaty nurturing, feeding, pruning and exposing my plants to sun and water- they really bloom only when and if nature determines they should.  I can’t take credit for that. So I endeavor to do the one thing I can – witness, marvel and truly celebrate the miraculous process of a flower – or a student-  coming into their own. To watch things bloom is amazing, and just knowing you play a small part in the process is very special indeed.

Here is what I saw blooming today at Heartwood.

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About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

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