Today I got to attend one of the most beautiful and touching yoga classes I’ve attended in a long time. Even through a screen, I felt so emotionally connected I ended up shedding a few tears.
The teacher was amazing and the sequencing was lovely, yet it was more than that. It was the emergence of a new yoga teacher, a new member of the ever-growing Bliss Army, and a new link in the web of connection that started, for me, with my lifelong friend Sara.
Sara and I met when we were 2 years old in the playgroup that the parents of the local small communities we lived in formed to create community. This was the 70s kids, we didn’t even have cable TVs. No internet or cell phones, not even cordless phones. McDonald’s had yet to release the McNugget. Empire Strikes Back was still a year distant, but that holiday special, thankfully, in the past.
As our towns were very small—mine, Goodwood, had about 250 people—there weren’t many people with kids around the same age, so we drew from a few small towns, and this brought me together with Sara, Amy, Jenny, and others who remain friends these 41 years later.
Jump forward a few decades. Sara and I have remained friends and have had many weird simpaticos during our life. One occurred when her long term relationship and my marriage ended around the same time. It was so helpful to have a trusted friend to turn to as we supported each other through many big changes. Sara found a weekend yoga workshop in a city close to mine, told me we were going and spending the weekend together, leaving me no room to wiggle out of it (a good friend knows when to push and when to back off). We would be training with a teacher she admired and had VHS tapes of his videos!
Enter Eoin Finn and Blissology yoga. I had only been practicing yoga for a while, and only one style. I was very nervous about the weekend and my yoga skills as I’ve never been athletic. How we were moving with Eoin was unfamiliar, and the first evening I was trepidatious. I turned to Sara from my mat and told her that I didn’t know some of these postures. She shrugged and replied, “try them anyway.”
By Sunday evening, my yoga was transformed. Anyone who has studied with Eoin knows he has a deep focus on alignment that transformed my physical practice, and mentally, my connection to my yoga practice had also shifted, thanks to Sara’s advice to try it anyway, even though it was unfamiliar.
A few years later, once again Sara and I found ourselves at a similar nexus in our lives—within weeks of each other, we endured similar injuries that derailed our lives. I sustained my 8th concussion in a kitchen cleaning accident (seriously) while Sara had a car accident and sustained whiplash and PTSD. Again, while I would not have wished such circumstances upon anyone, having a trusted friend going through a similar experience helped me get through it. As I was not able to work at my old career as an international sales manager in academic publishing, and yoga served as an amazing therapy for me mentally and physically, I decided to pursue my teacher training. There was only one choice for me, I had to train with Eoin.
The month I spent in Bali with Eoin and the rest of my YTT cohort was nothing short of life-changing. Spending so much time with a group of people in such a vulnerable way is guaranteed to draw you closer together, even without another wild accident. But this is me we are talking about, and if you don’t know me yet, well, I’m not so much accident prone as I experience the widest array of what life has to offer, I like to think, anyway, and in this case, what life had to offer was dancing through a glass floor out the bottom of a yoga studio into a koi pond (…seriously.) On the first full day of training. Across the world. In a place, I had gone alone to recover from another life-changing injury.
I did not let it end my trip and missed only 2 days of training even with 63 stitches and using crutches. This is not the story of that accident but is the story of the bond I developed with Eoin and the Bliss Army, and there is nothing like an accident to force you to ask for help and be vulnerable with strangers.
I went home 5 weeks later with a head full of yoga knowledge, a global connection of new friends, and some great new scars. Eventually, I found my way into teaching through the wonderful group of teachers in my city. My friend Joan introduced me to Tony who introduced me to Tina who introduced me to Kelsey who introduced me to Randi, who hired me to teach at Forest City Fitness—a community of people who all took the time and effort to help out a new teacher. Again, never having been naturally athletic, I felt out of my comfort zone going to a gym to teach yoga. I also had judgments about “gym yoga not being real yoga”. What I found instead was a caring and supportive community all invested in supporting each other, from the management to my colleagues to the members who support my classes.
Enter Alex Roa. Alex began coming to my yoga classes along with her sweet father, Felix. They were both very supportive of my classes, and were open and warm, taking the time to get to know me as a person, and letting me get to know them, too. Alex had done some yoga before, but was unfamiliar with the particular style I’d learned through Eoin—I blend his classic Blissology movements with his advanced Superflow training and a dash of Sadie Nardini (how I met Sadie is yet another beautiful tale for another day).
After a few months of getting to know each other, Alex asked if I would talk to her about doing her YTT. Of course, I wanted to tell her to study with Eoin, but I realise that what was the right choice for me may not be the right choice for her. I presented her with a number of options, and also explained to her the criteria I used when deciding to train through Blissology. After some extensive research, Alex returned to me and said she had decided to apply to train with Eoin. I was thrilled!
Alex returned home 5 weeks later with a head full of yoga knowledge, a global connection of new friends, and thankfully no new scars. Coming home at the start of the COVID crisis, Alex came back to a strangely restrictive time. We did not even get the chance to have one in-person class together before the stay at home regulations passed. This could have been a deterrent to someone less driven than Alex. She did not let this situation stand in her way. She asked me about teaching opportunities, and I sent her to my friend Mel, who sent her to Monika, who brought her on to teach at Innovation Works—a community of people who all took the time and effort to help out new teachers. And today was her first class!
Of course, I attended, and of course, it was amazing. Everything about how Alex led us through the class was exceptional. I have an education degree and can get quite exacting about teaching and presentation, and Alex blew us all away. She did not present as someone teaching their first class months after graduation. Instead, she was poised and professional and delivered a thoughtfully sequenced and clearly cued class. The students afterward made some great comments about the clarity of her directions and the creativity of the sequencing.
Monika let me stay on the zoom call after to hear her comments too. She read to Alex all of the comments in the chat—all glowing of course—and then contributed her own. She echoed so many of my own thoughts, and her praise was so sincere, thoughtful, and well delivered that I started crying! She mentors a lot of new yoga and fitness teachers and was thrilled with what Alex brought to the table. And of course, she asked her to teach more classes! It’s free and online so you can join us for the next one, I’ll include the details at the end.
Honestly, I was as emotional as when I first taught my own classes. What really got to me was the web of connection, flowing for for 41 years connecting Sara to me to Eoin to Alex and beyond. Of all the people along the way—those I named directly here and so many more—who supported me, so that I could help support others.
The heart of Blissology is “Yoga Community Nature”, and in these turbulent times, we need the connection piece more than ever.
What is a small way that you can connect today—both to ask for help and give it freely?
To join Alex, search for Wellness Works on meetup.com- it’s free and easy to connect through Zoom. She will be teaching at 8:30 am EST on July 16 and August 13. See you on the mat!
by Rebecca Todd
Rebecca started practicing yoga about 15 years ago, primarily for fitness. When she sustained her 8th concussion in 2014, she ended up with post-concussion syndrome, PTSD, neck, and back injuries, which changed her relationship to yoga and it became her physical and mental therapy. After a weekend workshop with Eoin Finn changed her practice a decade ago, she sought a teacher training with him to advance her practice and to help her share the yoga that helped her heal with others. Since then, she’s also done four advanced Blissology modules (Yoga Mindbody Medicine, Yogic by Nature, Advanced Adjustments and, her favourite, Superflow), a total of 425 hours, as well as assisting. Rebecca also trained with Love Your Brain yoga and Sadie Nardini in Yoga Shred and Core Strength Vinyasa.
Rebecca teaches online and in-person at Forest City Fitness, Jazzercise London, and Soulshine Yoga and she’s one half of the CBD wellness brand Bat and Butterfly. Find her on all things social @rebeccaamytodd to connect!