I thought I would take this opportunity to honor three very influential teachers I was fortunate to have when I first began to practice yoga in 1975. Margrit Segesman, Eve Degen and Susan Gabor. Margrit was the founder and Principal of the Gita School of Yoga in the 1950’s. Her book ‘Wings of Power’, first published in 1973 tells the story of her life and how she brought Yoga to Melbourne after spending several years in India with her Guru. A fantastic read. Quite ahead of its time.
There were reasons I took up yoga as is the case for most people. These reasons range through many layers of physical, emotional and mental, or of course all three.
Being a beginner is delightful. I was hooked from day one when I heard Eva’s voice telling me to relax at the end of a session. I am to this day conscious of the fact that I really am still a beginner. That is what is so interesting and exciting about the journey. You never know it all. I’m so grateful to have had these fabulous women in my life as not only teachers but friends.
Becoming a student at the Gita School of Yoga opened many doors into the discovery of what life was about and most importantly how to live life. I became aware of life’s big questions slowly unraveling. Also a deeper spirit of inquiry began to arise. Margrit always loved questions.
At the core of our being we are searching for something that is going to give us strength, courage, something that is going to give us happiness and peace. Its not going to come from anything outside ourselves so we need to discover something within ourselves that is going to do that.
The Gita School offered many and varied classes and activities. We not only attended classes in Hatha Yoga (Postures) but also Yoga Philosophy classes were available and classes in Progressive Yoga Relaxation for which Margrit was famous for. There were free lectures to attend and stretch classes on Saturday afternoons. It was a wonderful centre of activity and a place to meet with like minded people. My husband and I met right there in 1979.
Margrit would not permit us to study the philosophy until we were sufficiently grounded in Hatha Yoga and the techniques of Relaxation. This usually took about twelve months of regular attendance. This made perfect sense as not only did it cultivate our discipline and commitment but it gave us the grounding that was needed for meditation and study.
So when it was finally time for me to join a Philosophy class, I literally couldn’t wait. These weekly sessions were thrilling. The texts we studied were about the power of the mind, the law of attraction, Creative and Negative Tension, Self and Self Image, Visualization, Astrology, Brain Plasticity… yes even way back then!
These classes always began with Meditation. Margrit believed and taught meditation as an integral part of the Yoga Teachings. It is the seventh step (dhyana) of the eightfold path of Yoga described by Patanjali. Meditation when practiced very regularly brings us in touch with our higher self. The intuitive mind.
As Margrit said,
“There exists within man the power to contact the universal forces by which he is capable of doing anything that he may aspire to do or be.”
I have never forgotten those inspirational words and I think that is an auspicious place to end for now. I would like to continue this story next time. In the meantime, ponder on those words and see if you can find your, “Wings of Power’.
Warm wishes and love to you