My First Yoga Workshop
Darren Rhodes
 November 5-6, 1999

   The Darren Rhodes Yoga workshop was announced in class one class a few weeks ago and as a spur of the moment thing I thought “why not” so I signed up.  I thought if I’m going to do it I might as well do both days so I signed up for both the Friday and Saturday workshop.  I must say I was a bit apprehensive about taking the class for I had never taken a workshop before.  I have been enjoying my yoga classes this past semester really beginning to feel the energy, the movement, the peace that comes during and after a workout.  I had similar experiences before when I took karate and, especially when, I took dance class.  But when it came to a “workshop” I wasn’t sure I was ready for it.  I probably is a sign of my own insecurity but the week of the workshop came around and, although I had only signed up for the beginning workshop, I didn’t want to feel like I was just a complete beginner so I practiced my yoga each night that week in addition to my usual Wednesday and Thursday night’s classes.  Well Friday came and I had the workshop on my mind all day and I took off work early, 4pm, so I could go home and prepare.  Well the class didn’t begin until 7pm but, being my usual not wanting to be late and wanting to stake out a good spot, I got there at 6:30.  Well it was a bit early, I was the first one there.  Betsy was there and greeted me and signed me in.  I turned around and there was the young guy standing there and he said hello.  I didn’t recognize him at first but then it hit me it was Darren so I said, somewhat awkwardly, “I was really looking forward to his class”.  First impressions are always interesting and I had two at the moment: Darren was much younger and shorter than I expected.  I had got an impression what he would be like from his picture in the Workshop flier and seeing him in person, well I was a bit taken by surprise.  Being the first one there I had my pick of spots so I took my usual spot, front row just to the right.  I did my warm up stretches, and meditated for a bit while the class filled up.  Well the class was great!  There was a few new things and some of the same.  His style of teaching much reminded me of Susan’s style for he emphasized the physical energy vs. the organic energy.  Being in the front of class I had the experience to be selected (volunteering) to work with Darren for demonstrations.  Well I found that really neat!  Actually I don’t really like getting up in front of everyone but I find if I focus on the instructor and what he(she) is trying to demonstrate I really get a lot out of it by working as the demonstratee.  One of the neatest things came from the physical vs. organic energy hip openers we did at the end of class.  We were sitting with our feet together and knees out to the side.  I have always found that I felt comfortable with this but my knees were always about three to four inches off the floor and thought that someday, probably years in the future I would be able to bring my knees to the floor.  Well Darren showed how using physical energy to press the soles of the feet together and then using organic energy to extend the knees outward I was able to bring my knees to the floor, WOW, what a surprise.  Another thing I found interesting was that Darren’s mother and brother live in Pennsylvania and they both came down to attend the class which I found really neat, a family of yoga, with his mother even being a yoga teacher.  This became even more interesting the next class.  In the end I really enjoyed the class learning something new and refreshing what I already had learned.

   Well on Saturday I wasn’t quite as early but I again seemed to be the first one there and took my usual position, did my warm up, meditation and the laid down and relaxed.  When class started I sat up and found that Darren’s mother as sitting next to me.  One of the things that I found was that Darren does quite a few exercises with partners.  Well the partner thing has always made me a little uncomfortable for a couple of reasons, some of the things require a closeness and doing it with women I don’t know, well is awkward.  Doing it with another man, if there are any, well that can be even more awkward.  As it turned out I partnered with Darren’s mother.  I must say that she wasn’t what I expected.  As I said, Darren was younger that I expected so it turns out his mother was probably my age.  Darren started out telling about some of his life’s experiences and how, though yoga, he overcame some of them.  The first partner exercises we did was with our partner was to share a hang-up or life issue.  Well, wow, shock me, this involves getting in touch with one’s feelings, not something I do just spur of the moment like this.  Well Darren’s mother started out and she shared how she had some physical problems with her knee and shoulder and how, in one case, invalid yoga position caused it, but also how though yoga she was helped.  I shared how I have had a curvature of the back since I was a kid and how I was hoping that the yoga would help correct it (that’s the best I could do).  What was interesting was that the whole time I stared into to her eyes and seem to, I guess I would say, connect with her.  I felt something personal, I’m not sure what, perhaps a sadness, but also perhaps an excitement.  Well the class continued and we did several other exercises together.  After one exercise we had a moment and I asked her how long she had been doing yoga, she replied “30 years”.  I then asked if she taught Darren and his brother yoga when they were young and she replied that “no, the last they wanted was to do yoga with her when they were young”.  Strange how things turn out with, here and now it is the son who is the master teaching the mother.  Well the strangest thing happened after class.  We did our closing and I turned to her and thanked her for being my partner.  As we stood up she reached out to me and then said that before she shared with me a physical issue she wanted to share with me an emotional issue, she then told me she had and issue with fear.  Wow, her reaching out to me like that, sharing with me, took some courage, especially since her issue was with fear (although I’m not sure what her fear was about).  So what did I do, I responded in a serious, reflecting tone, “we all have fears we must face”.  I looked at her a moment and then walked away.  God, did I freaked out, here she reached out to me to share something personal and I gave a contrite reply and waked away.  Yes, we all have fears, and one of mine was to reach out to her and connect.  I sit her and write this thinking, what did I do, what could I have done, what could have happened if I would have opened up to her, listened to her, responded to her from the heart.

Well that was my first workshop, I must say it was an enlightening experience in more ways the one.

Larry Mixson