Over the weekend, I took one of three of Desirée Rumbaugh’s amazing workshops being held at the yoga studio. It was titled “Stand up Straight” but, although the description said nothing of the sort, somehow I made the leap to spinal alignment and immediately signed up. It wasn’t until I was in the parking lot, 45 minutes prior to the start, that I read the description again. The was no mention of the spine OR alignment in the description. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and made that leap of faith that, of the three workshops, this was the one I belonged in.
Desirée’s story is one of tragedy and loss followed by an intense mission to reclaim her joy and life’s purpose. Simply meeting her, and seeing her vibrancy and strength, is inspiring. Hearing her speak, is ten times more powerful — if not more.
The workshop itself was jam packed in content and yogis lined up in three long rows with no more than 2-3 inches between each of the mats. It was tight but it worked. In fact, the close knit arrangement seemed to bring us all together even more than usual, which is saying a lot.
From the physical to the spiritual and emotional lessons, Desirée validated the reason I’d come. On the physical side, she directed us to access our core strength for a more grounded and stable pose. The spiritual and emotional lesson, was one of utilizing our inner strength, or life-force, to “stand up straight” and face the challenges that are put before us. With that, came the more subtle invitation to spread the joy to others once we have found the ease in life in much the same way as Desirée has done.
The workshop was a series of familiar poses, with the added focus of “powering through” from the ground up. This was done by stabilizing and energetically pulling our inner legs together, while rooting down, widening our hips (after clarification, I visualize this as separating the ischial tuberosities) in order to tuck the tailbone (coccyx) in between, and pulling in the lower edge of the ribs (pull the xiphiod process inward).
The sequence of poses culminated with backbends (primarily bridge and wheel pose). It seems, this was the whole physical point of the workshop. The key to safely growing these heart-opening poses, it to build upon the strength laid down in the initial exercises. After that base was established, we move on. We began by pulling our shoulders back and wrapping the scapula medially in order to lift the heart in a scoop-like manner, then we got to enjoy a full opening the chest and feel the marvelous and joyful backbend.
As for my back: it held up great. At one point, when someone asked about low back pain, Desirée noted that if our back was hurting, we were probably not utilizing our full core strength to protect the back. And that was just one of the many ah-ha’s that reinforced the reason that I needed to be at that workshop.
I walked out of there standing taller, straighter, and stronger. All that with a open heart too. Thank you, Desirée! And thank you, Jenn for not only inviting her, but insisting that we all attend at least one of her workshops.