It had been five blissful days in our Hawaii Yoga Teacher Training adventure. Mornings were spent meditating. The yoga and humidity were cleansing our bodies and detoxifying our organs. A wealth of yogic philosophy was stimulating our minds. Everything was so perfect that, as with everything in life, we should have known something was brewing.
Before the Storm
The Big Island of Hawaii had not been hit with a hurricane in 20 years. So you can imagine my surprise when I heard rumblings of the possible arrival of Hurricane Iselle. You might think that I would have been filled with fear at the prospect of a hurricane. Especially for a girl from the Prairie Provinces in Canada. I’ve hardly seen a funnel cloud let alone any sort of tropical storm! My reaction, however, was quite the opposite. On the day the hurricane was scheduled to arrive I was filled with anxious excitement. There was electricity in the air and the whole island felt charged with energy.
When we arrived in class that day any fears were quelled by Liz and Molly. They, as long time residents of Hawaii, informed us that the Island was protected by Mount Pele. The mountain which should shelter us from the brunt of the storm. In addition, Kalani was well prepared to weather anything that might come our way. After several minutes of debriefing any lingering fears had given way to excitement. Meditation can be challenging even on your typical day. But imagine trying to calm your mind when you can hear the crash of ocean waves and the rush of wind in the distance! Instead of allowing us to get carried away by our emotions, Liz invited us to use the weather as an opportunity to actually practice meditating amidst all the chaos of “real life” as it was happening, in “real time”.
We practiced a type of grounding meditation where we placed our peace fingers on the earth. Allowing the energy of the ground to even the flow of thoughts in our mind. Following meditation, Molly lead us through an invigorating yoga practice also centered around grounding. Allowing us challenge both our bodies and our minds by channeling our energy into our practice, and out of our own heads and bodies. The net result was incredible. We had begun the day in a frenzy of excitement. None of us even sure how we would get through our classes with the anticipation of such a storm; however, by turning obstacle into opportunity, we found that we were able to put our yoga skills to use in a real life situation, as opposed to limiting their value to the mere sanctity of our retreat.
In addition to the opportunity to employ our yogic principles, the storm brought with it a number of other surprises. There were several days after the hurricane when we were without power. As it turned out, the lack of power necessitated some candlelit evening classes, which created a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere filled with deeply philosophical conversations and emotionally stirring presentations.
After the Storm
The loss of power also left many students in the class without a way to charge their mobile devices. In their overly generous fashion Liz and Molly organize a class field trip to Hilo. It’s a nearby town, where we were given the chance to charge our devices at Molly’s studio, Yoga Centered. For me the studio was both career-inspiring and wallet-breaking! Yoga Centered combines three of my favorite things, yoga, clothes and jewelry. After plugging in our electronics some of the students used the time to head down to the beautiful Hilo beach. Others opted to join a Yoga Centered class that was being offered that afternoon. The rest of us spent our day trying on an array of yoga clothes, sports bras, mix and match bikinis, earrings, perfumes, and the list goes on!
When I returned from my Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training adventure several people asked me what it was like during the hurricane; my response was that we hardly noticed it occurred! Only at a yoga training could such a potentially horrific event lead to so many beautiful things. Not only did it bring our class closer together through the bonds that can only be created in the face of potential disaster. Additionally, it allowed us the opportunity to test our skills in the face of mayhem and forced us to wander off the beaten path leading us to an experience more rewarding than we ever could have hoped.