At the closing session I don't know what caused me to volunteer to help with the blog since I was quite tired, had been on the planning committee, and during the event had caught a cold. But some mysterious, unknown force caused my arm to rise up with eagerness when the audience was asked who was willing to write about their AYC experience. I'm not completely over the cold yet so I just hope the words I've strung together make sense.
Before the opening session I knew I wasn't the only yoga instructor with a disability who taught students with disabilities but I didn't realize that we came from such distant sites. I was surprised at how far some of the attendees traveled to get to the event in Santa Barbara---from Berlin and Hong Kong in fact!
While attending conference sessions, I listened hard for new ideas on teaching people with disabilities. The stories that the presenters shared about their lives and how they came to be yoga teachers were truly inspiring and soon I just wanted to hear them keep talking about themselves---but that wasn't the intended topic of the sessions.
Each presenter had such a different perspective than the others---which helped me augment the strength of my yoga practice that I share. I wrote in my notes some useful tips for teaching alongside the tidbits concerning the varied life stories I heard.
When I returned home I found in my suitcase a few golden nuggets of wisdom that I made sure didn't get mistaken for laundry items. I placed them carefully in a spot where I could retrieve them when I was ready to share them in this blog post.
The sense of being connected, one of the main themes of the conference, constituted the strongest take-away from the event for me. According to my guru, Swami Satchidananda, one of the most important elements in spiritual practice is sangha (community). In two days my sangha grew in numbers I never imagined it would.
Empowerment, another theme of the AYC, was a significant take-away as well. I felt it on two distinct levels: as I witnessed our "strength in numbers” and as I was reminded of the Yoga teaching that we are all born with peace and happiness within.
The AYC gave me a big dose of the elixir of connectedness and empowerment. Just one day after the closing session I had no less than five requests to be FaceBook friends with folks I had met at the conference and the requests keep arriving. Let the conversation continue!