Saturday, May 13, 2017

Someone Special

Twelve years ago I was in Los Angeles assisting at Bikram Choudhry's hot yoga teacher training.  I was a recent graduate of the training returning as a visiting teacher. The yoga sequence we taught consisted of twenty-six postures.  But there existed an advanced series of eighty-four postures that I was eager to try.  I attended my first advanced series yoga class surrounded by people who were really, really good at it, bending their bodies into fantastic postures.  Then there was me.

Technically, at the time, one needed to be a certified teacher to attend advanced class. On that count I qualified.  Another requirement was the ability to get into, and hold, Lotus Posture, a cross-legged sitting posture.  I could do that, barely.  Prior to class I introduced myself to Emmy, Hot's Yoga's real leader. Emmy, now near ninety, practices often and leads advanced class.  Emmy has a sardonic way about her.  She assessed my skills and reluctantly admitted me to her class with a quip about not hurting myself.  Emmy is also a flirt. I think that had more to do with her acquiescence.  Truth be told, I was unqualified.  But one has to start somewhere.

Emmy Cleaves in Lotus Posture

As soon as the opening sequence begun, I knew I was in over my head, especially with this particular group of folks, some of the best in the world.  Behind me a young guy stopped his own postures and would come and give me corrections.  While I was terrible at advanced yoga class, one thing I had going for me is I can be stubborn.  I was not giving up.  Throughout the class the gentleman behind me continued to offer me assistance.

What stood out about this man's assistance was his generosity. He had amazing skill at the postures, executing some of the ones impossible for me to consider with grace, style and excellence. My tutor seemed to know when I was capable of following along and would come and give me tips as to how to get into a posture properly.  But there was something more to this man than simply knowledge of the yoga.  He was outward focused.  I suspect there were other students present that would have viewed me as a nuisance who did not belong.  My new found mentor was kind. He was able to meet me where my ability could take me,  and bring me just a little bit forward. There was something special about him.

After class I looked for my new found teacher but he had left quickly, and I didn't even know his name.  Later I learned it was Jason Winn.


Over the years since, I've heard people talk about what a special person Jason was, especially since his tragic death.  He was a beautiful looking Lad seemingly possessing the best attributes of both masculine and feminine, kind of a Greek God.  And he was one of the best in the world at performing deep, impressive yoga postures. Had it not been for my brief, anonymous, encounter with this special person, I might consider the praise I hear for him as sympathy for an untimely passing.  But I know better.

Every once in a while we meet a person who has the ability to see us, to listen to us, to commit themselves to paying attention to what's going on with us.  In my ninety minutes with Jason Winn I came away knowing he was such a person, a generous teacher, someone special.

No comments:

Post a Comment