Shine The Light
by Seán Johnson
In recent days I have found myself remembering with great gratitude the people who have lit up my life. One of them is my first yoga teacher, my college professor Doranne Crable. She was an amazing woman who traveled all over the world studying dance, meditation, yoga, and literature.
In college in my early twenties, at a time in my life when I was broken-hearted and raw, I experienced an inspiring guest lecture with Doranne on ‘the hero’s journey,’ where she spoke of the transformative power of facing and overcoming adversity. One night as I was walking across campus I stumbled upon a mesmerizing torch-lit guerilla dance performance in the middle of a meadow Doranne was putting on with a group of her students, and I immediately decided I wanted to study with her.
She required that her students take the free yoga classes she offered during lunch several times a week and at first I was reluctant because my first yoga experience with another teacher was very negative and I had decided that I hated yoga. But, I chose to try yoga again, with her as a guide, and I experienced a keen and vibrant awareness of my body that I had never felt before. Her classes were like a spiritual/art laboratory where we studied and practiced yoga, meditation, poetry, singing, dance, literature, and more. I did my first real yoga poses in her classes, read Rumi for the first time, went on a 10 day silent meditation retreat, chanted mantras, dared to challenge the self-conscious awkwardness I felt in my body by dancing Japanese Butoh and Flamenco, and much more. Even though I had played sports growing up, I felt for the first time that I was truly inhabiting my body in her yoga classes. All the experiences stretched my mind and expanded my heart wide.
One day, a couple of years into studying with Doranne, the phone rang. I answered and she was on the other line: “Sean, I have to go out of town unexpectedly tomorrow and I want you to teach yoga class for me.” I had never considered for a moment teaching yoga, and was surprised, afraid, anxious. She encouraged me to overcome my resistance and go for it. She said it would be a good experience, and she thought I’d be a good teacher. I took her advice, food for courage. That was twenty years ago. Wild Lotus Yoga wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for her, if it weren’t for that phone call, and if it weren’t for Doranne’s teachers and their teachers who shined the light and emboldened and uplifted each other. Sadly, several years ago Doranne died of cancer. I miss her very much, and I also feel her presence every single day in so much of what I practice and teach that was sparked by her.
Sometimes people see something in us that we can’t see in ourselves- they shine the light in the darkness that gives us a hint of our path. What a gift. I invite you to reflect and celebrate those that have illuminated your life, that have inspired and encouraged you to grow into the person that you are and are becoming. We also invite you to reflect on how, in this world that can sometimes feel very divisive and cynical, you can shine your light more boldly, and be a force of inspiration and encouragement for others that could have a ripple effect for years to come.
More Teacher’s Stories Coming Soon