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Create Space for Something New
Shannon Brady

I recently spent two hours online researching cat food options to temper my Tabby’s irritable tummy. Three hours later, I trolled every aisle at PetSmart to see if I’d missed anything. For real. My default nature is to complicate things. And with the increasing number of choices being hurled at us every day in this consumer-hungry society, I need yoga more than ever.

What I adore most about Baptiste Power Yoga is the simplicity of it. Using the same sequence - Journey Into Power - and catering to all levels regardless how many days or decades one has practiced yoga, takes the paralysis out of analysis every time I step up to practice or teach. Hobbling into my first class ten years ago with a post-Marathon torn calf muscle and fear of not being able to maintain a hard-earned level of fitness, I left in shock of how simple, and how damn hard it was all at once. I lied down into Savasana soaked in sweat vowing never to return, and knowing full well I would. Again and again.

How was it, I thought in that first class, that the 230-pound bodybuilder dude next to me could open up into the hugest Wheel pose I’d ever seen? Or the research scientist I’d subsequently gotten to know moved through poses like a ballerina when she spent the remaining hours of her day hunkering over a petri dish under fluorescent bulbs? How did they tolerate the heat, the pace, the teacher imploring them to explore their personal edge day after day?

At every Baptiste training I’ve participated in, there’s been heavy emphasis placed on creating space for something new. It is one of the components of finding True North Alignment - both in one’s practice and one’s life. And to me, therein lies the magic. Finding something new - in my practice, my teaching, my life - and staying on the path of growth requires clearing out the clutter and finding space first. Only then can something new and amazing emerge.

I recall in the early stages of my teaching I tried desperately to impress my students with all sorts of creative sequencing and chatty half-platitudes. Not until I was forced to memorize the Journey Into Power sequence, down to the word, and teach it to my small group several times a day did I finally appreciate the power of simplicity. The magic started to happen in my classes after that training. Finally there were no more confused faces or “please kindly shut the f… up” nonverbal cues coming from the back row.

I’m in a place now of so much joy in my teaching. Instead of trying to stand out, set myself apart, fill a false void or perform, I get to simply guide and observe, and witness the magic unfolding before me in my students bodies and expressions. Having the Journey Into Power sequence imprinted in my brain and body, and honoring it in my teaching and my practice, has cleared the way for so much more opportunity and enabled me to truly connect with my students. Learning is a two-way street - I learn from them, they learn from me. The yoke in yoga, if you will.

Now I just need to simplify how to shop for cat food.