A special congratulations are in order today! A few weeks ago our very own Natalie Gildersleeve started working on a project. Her goal was to tell others what being “Open to Grace” meant to her as an instructor. Her product was a wonderful poster featuring her 1 year old daughter, Juniper and a moving written piece, which she shared with us Yesterday in her Prana Vinyasa class. And as if this wasn’t already accomplishment enough, Natalie then told us that her beautiful self definition of being Open to Grace had won her a private teaching session with Sianna Sherman, an internationally recognized Anusara teacher. It was an absolute treat to get to share in Natalie’s accomplishment today, and you could feel the collective excitement and joy in class as she shared her news. As we sat and closed our eyes to begin practice, Natalie stared to read us her piece. Not far in, she paused and we heard her giggle,
“It appears when I printed this off, half of my message got deleted! Talk about being open to grace!”
We laughed with her, spirits high and bubbling, and she promised to share the message in it’s entirety at the close of class.
This was my first class at Yoga Union in a little while. I started my yoga practice there a little over a year ago, but after moving to North East, the commute made it hard to attend regularly. Luckily for me, the cosmos recently aligned and I was blessed with a chance to start practicing at Yoga Union again and I could not have picked a better first class back. Following Natalie’s lead, I dedicated my practice to Opening to Grace and what it meant to me. She guided me through both a physical and spiritual exploration of the innate inner good that exists in every one of us, and how we can always open up and receive grace, even in the hardest of situations. I found myself lifting my face and heart upward more than usual, and a feeling of warmth, love and positivity flowing down upon me, which I accepted graciously. I reveled in those around me, people at all levels sharing their practice and intentions with me, moving as a collective. And I thought about the ways I could say “Yes! I am open and ready!” in my own life, today, tomorrow and forever.
As I settled into shavasana, reverberating in the good vibrations we as a group had created, she shared her message. It was a lovely message and one I will carry with me for many days to come. For those of you who weren’t as fortunate as I to be in Natalie’s class today, please read her piece below. Don’t hesitate to give her a high-five the next time you see her too 🙂 We will surely all be looking forward to hearing how her experience with Sianna is.
This is what she wrote:
I have been personalizing the meaning of Open to Grace for a long time. I contemplated this a lot when I was introduced to the principle in some of my first Anusara classes years ago. I remember the feeling of being a child. Running and laughing so hard I would collapse into the fresh grass with my breath full and my heart pounding. I could feel in nature and within myself an undeniably sweet goodness to life. As I have grown older I have gone through times where I have forgotten this sweetness, the true fragrance of life. But for me, especially right now, my biggest reminder is my one year old daughter Juniper. I love to watch her eyes light up with curiosity and wonder at the sight of something new, to see her squeal with delight when we chase her naked little body around the house. I am inspired to witness her love without hesitation. All of this reminds me of the wonderfully pure taste of innocence I had as a little girl.
Opening to Grace, for me, is remaining open to the beauty that fills our lives. It is remembering possibility and intrinsic goodness even after experiencing growing pains, heartbreak, loss, and tears. It is staying bright and playful like a child – yet sensitive, receptive, and full of love. It is my promise to spirit to truly live my yoga as a person, mother, and teacher. I strive to continue to connect more fully to myself, and to live a life that reminds others to do the same. I believe that we are all manifestations of grace herself – and even if we forget that at times, grace waits patiently for us to reconnect, to reawaken to a life that is fresh and full of wonder. -Natalie Gildersleeve