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I recently found myself travelling to a small town in Maine, USA. Coming from London, it is no surprise I would call Waterville, Maine a rural setting.
But as we drove down "Main Street", I was taken by complete surprise when we arrived at Barrels Market, a truly organic local food shop and cafe. This community cooperative would make any big city Whole Foods shopper envious. The group lives and breathes local products & supporting community.
In a rural town of this size, I wondered "what would the appetite for yoga be?"
So when a couple of ladies I met who worked at the town's local hospital invited me along to their Saturday morning yoga class, I jumped at the offer!
Tucked away in what looked like an old church house, a group of yogis gathered at School Street Yoga for a morning ‘Flourish’ yoga class.
I was again pleasantly surprised to see how the studio filled up with yogis, especially given the 8:30am start! But I was told by my fellow yogi friends that this was in fact quieter than normal given it was Memorial Day weekend and also graduation for local Colby College. Colby, one of the country's top liberal arts universities, brings many students to the area.
Guiding our practice was the lovely Jeri Wilson, co-owner of the studio. If I could sum up the essence and aura of a true yogi, Jeri would probably be it. From the moment we walked through the door I was struck by her calm demeanour, as if she held the secret to a balanced life in the palm of her hand (or possibly balanced on her head!)
The theme she set for our class was patience. Something that I am not very good at naturally and am always practising.
It never fails to amaze me how a simple point of focus for a yoga class can cut to the core of my being so quickly. Its like no matter how one dresses themselves up or busies themselves with work, actives, needs & wants, yoga strips away all those things and leaves just you there. To take a look at yourself. As you are today. Not who you were or where you’ve been. And certainly not you who want to be or where you want to go. But here and now.
Jeri guided us through a slow-flowing class with an expert’s attention to detail. She focused on the concept of patience throughout and kept reminding us to just be here.
On the drive home, my new-found yogi friend Abby and I talked about what made this class so special and unique. We agreed it certainly included the gift of knowing how to communicate with a group, seemingly so effortless. Selecting and articulating words which speak to one on a profound level.
But I realised the patience it must have taken for Jeri to teach in this way. And how the 'art of words’ can make all the difference in a yoga class.
When I returned from the class, I sat for a minute in front of my computer. Eager to write my thoughts about what I’d learned and experienced in class. But then I stopped myself. For just a moment. To take a deep breath and remind myself that the words would come, the blog would be written and being patient and letting it flow organically, might result in the most real "here & now" expression of my experience.
Again, literally while typing this blog I realised what Jeri ‘taught’ us that morning was done so through her own expression of patience. It was the time she took to walk us through each posture, using demonstration and explanations of positioning, and reminders to be thoughtful and self-aware.
She probably had taught these poses 100 times before and maybe to this very group nearly 50 times. But she was being ever so patient as if she was teaching it from a new and fresh place…
If I didn’t stop and take the breath before writing this, I might have just missed it.
Other great things about this studio:
- Cancer patients get free yoga classes
- Stress-reduction Programme
- Yoga & Art summer camp
- $5 community classes on Friday nights
Things to do if you find yourself in Waterville, Maine:
- School Street Yoga (of course!)
- Barrels Market (homemade soups & sandwiches served daily!)
- Riverside Farm Restaurant & Farm Market (perfect for a nice dinner out!)