Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Betsy Downing’s yoga workshop at Open Mind Yoga . Besty was practicing yoga before I was even born, and is recognised widely as a senior Anusara teacher. She is a leader in the community, serving as co-chair of the Anusara Certification Committee. As you can imagine, I have a lot to learn from her.
Betsy first came to Dublin a year ago, imparting a warm and lasting impression on all those who attended her workshop. I was particularly drawn to her down-to-earth, mellow teaching style. She also reminds me of one of my “soul-mate” friends, Mary-Beth, who lives in NYC. Both Betsy and Mary-Beth have Goddess-like energy. For me they represent grace, femininity and Mother Nature. Their vibe is earthy, grounding, calm, compassionate and, most of all, a lot of fun to be around.
Betsy opened Sunday’s workshop with a talk on how our minds are so much more powerful than we realise. If we use the mind properly – focusing positively instead of negatively – we can manifest anything, from being on time, to no traffic at rush hour, and free car parking spaces at busy times . Mary-Beth takes this a step further calling on her car parking Goddess “Gladdis” when she needs a space! (I could only smile when the likeness between Betsy and Mary-Beth became more apparent).
I find senior Anusara teachers to be full of knowledge and incredibly inspiring, and Betsy stands true to this trend. Each word so thoughtful, eye opening, philosophical. She opened Saturday’s workshop referring to a book she had recently read, Wakening The Global Heart by Anodea Judith. She connected her theme of the day to the premise of this book that is based on the hope and encouragement that we can move beyond the destructive world, as we know it today, as a civilization. Our world of power, ego, competition, and self-gain is waiting to become a world filled with love, compassion, community and spirit.
To quote Betsy, “We have gone so far with the love of power there is nowhere else to go with it.” We have pushed “power” beyond its limitations and now Mother Nature is suffering. Because of that, the world is in turmoil. With love in her words and compassion in her heart Betsy offered that each one of us has a unique roll to play in the global shift of consciousness by knowing our own individual power of love.
The physical aspect of the yoga class was a classical certified Anusara style of the highest standard. I particularly got a lot out of the handstand workshop. I’ll be sharing all I learned with those of you who attend my classes and workshops. Shoulder flexibility, inner spiral, and the belly of the hamstring are where it’s at. A different approach to how I originally learned a handstand, but very effective – throw yourself into it!
We chilled out in restorative postures, practiced meditation and pranayama, adding to the cloud-walking effect I had after each day with Betsy.
Betsy also read an inspirational piece from the Integral Life and wrapped the workshop reading a stunning excerpt from our own John O’Donohue’s Beauty. These contributions shared a common thread: each of us has a unique divinity and a personal roll to play in the changing our world to make it a better place. It’s time for us to get with program and live and lead with our hearts instead of our minds. This is the real goal of yoga, to live in union with our true nature that is beyond all ego.
“Only through a rite of passage will humanity shift from the love of power to the power of love.” – Waking the Global Heart by Anodea Judith.