I wonder if every yogi remembers where they were the first moment they heard the news, heard the word yo-ga, the first time this practice made its way into their world. This fad, this workout, this stretching, this thing from the East, this work out they had to try.
I remember I was running on a treadmill, watching VH1, and in between “Pop Up Video” episodes they did a clip where I heard Madonna and Sting proclaim that they had gotten their dream body doing yoga. Say what? Stop the rubber belt I’m running on immediately, you’re tellin’ me there is a better way? Sign, me, up.
And then my story probably unfolds like every yoga love story. Girl meets yoga mat, pretends she’s just in it casually, for the physical and next thing you know she’s signing up for a monthly-unlimited class pack. How quickly your fear of commitment vanishes in the face of your first handstand, right? Then really, it’s only a matter of time before your love for the game overrides your logical thinking, your financial doubts and your parents’ advice.
Your day job has completely lost its luster and you need only to blink your eyes and open them to find yourself in the middle of a teacher training. I don’t think I’ve met a teacher yet whose story didn’t begin with “well, I never thought I’d teach it.” Us yogi’s, we may be bendy, but we’re not always original.
Wherever you are on you own personal yoga story, there seems to be no denying, yoga steals your heart. Actually, it reintroduces you to your heart, to yourself, your greatest potential and your mundane habitual patterns. On the mat, you find yourself, off the mat, you find your tribe, your satsang and you begin to understand the difference between merely ‘fitting in’ and truly belonging.
I know for myself, this path is all about exploration. I’ve tried all forms, styles, in all different parts of the world, lineages and room temperatures, and for me, it was Jivamukti Yoga School in NYC that made my heart skip a beat. Like every proper courtship, you search for your match, sometimes dating around as you evolve over time, but when you find the one, you know.
Jivamukti has my heart not only because of my connection to the method created by Sharon Gannon and David Life, but also because it’s where I met my teacher, the rockstar yogi, Rima Rabbath. She rocks the dharma, has the ability to make yoga feel accessible for everyone and spins the tunes that has everyone clamoring after class to get a glimpse at her playlist. Like all great yoga teachers, no matter what mood or baggage you enter the room with, she reconnects you with the practice and the work that we’re here as yogi’s to do each day.
Like all relationships, it seems our practice goes through phases, ruts, ups and downs and it’s often inspiring teachers, festivals or immersions that help us keep it fresh. Recently I had a chance to sit down with Rima and Jules Febre, another inspiring Jivamukti teacher, who travels the world spreading the teachings with his expertise of the physical practice always perfectly accompanied by his charm and wit. Guaranteed laughs, and lots of them.
I chatted with these two about their journey to the mat, their upcoming Immersion together at Omega in September and of course, how they found, “The One.”
Talking about how we find our way to the mat, Rima, can you share your own yoga love story of how you discovered the practice?
Randomly. But then there isn’t such thing as “random.” You get to realize this through practice - that where you’ve arrived, wherever it is that you’ve arrived at, is because either consciously or unconsciously, you’ve planted the seeds to get there. Sometimes we arrive at a place and we are disappointed. We wonder: “How did I get here?” Like David Byrne, the lead singer of Talking Heads, asks in ‘Once in a Lifetime’. But it was the total opposite sensation of disappointment that I felt when I discovered the practice.
It happened after a colleague at Colgate Palmolive told me that I should try this yoga thing at the Jivamukti Yoga School. For 6 months I resisted. I was all but an “early adopter”. But then six months later, I walked through the doors of the studio on Lafayette Street and found myself in the Monday 6:15pm Open Class – crowded, filled with “regulars”– but none of it seemed intimidating. Just overwhelming a tiny little bit and in a good way!
And… It was because it was the teacher who captured my heart. At the end of that hour and a half, I had found my teacher. While that may sound cliché, it is what it is. There is no other way to put it. She spoke to me and I could see right there and then how there was potential for me as well as in me to one day, have a practice and a teacher - something and someone I could come back to regularly if not all the time. It was a moment of great humility - this feeling that there would be someone who could teach me to be strong yet vulnerable at the same time.
You’re next co-teaching event happens this Fall at Omega when you facilitate the Jivamukti Immersion. This comes right off Labor Day, the official end to Summer, is their any significance with the timing as people end one season and begin another?
The yogi is traditionally someone who is "in tune" with Mother Nature, hence the timing. The yogi is continuously beginning a new, always in sync with the end of a season and the beginning of a new one. In addition, the beginning of our immersion purposely coincides with and includes the Ecstatic Labor Day Chant Weekend held annually at Omega.
Participants in our immersion will get to "tune in" to the vibrations of notable and devotional kirtan singers such as Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Snatnam Kaur and more. There are all kinds of yoga retreats, vacations and teacher trainings, where does an "immersion" fit within all of this? What can yogi's expect from this getaway? And Is this experience tailored to any particular level of practitioner?
The Jivamukti immersions have been specifically designed to offer any level of yoga practitioner and teacher from any method or school the opportunity to study the curriculum that is directly drawn from the Jivamukti Yoga Teacher Training, whether they are working on perfecting Tadasana or Handstand. The week includes asana practicals, lectures on ancient texts, chanting, meditation and more.
Since you both just spent a month in the Costa Rican jungle together co-facilitating the Jivamukti Teacher training, it's safe to say you're pretty familiar with each others teaching styles. Jules, tell us what would draw you away for an immersion with Rima? And Rima, what do yogi's have to look forward to in an immersion with Jules?
Jules: The thing that makes Rima an amazing teacher is her immense humility and devotion to her teachers. She is able to truly pass on the teachings in a contemporary way from an ancient tradition that perfectly suits the city dwelling yogi.
Rima: When teaching a workshop, Jules can "see" what's happening in a student's body like no one else. He is then able to empower the students to reach a potential greater than they perhaps could have imagined. His sense of humor and dedication to our lineage is contagious.
Catch Rima & Jules at the Jivamukti Immersion on Septemeber, 2nd in Rhineback, New York. All the details can be found on the Omega Information page here.
Rima Rabbath and Jules Febre are two of the senior teachers under the Jivamukti Method created by Sharon Gannon and David Life. With the streets of New York City as their home base, they both travel the world leading workshops, teacher trainings and immersions to adoring ‘yogi-fans’. Known and adored throughout the world for their expertise, humor and ability to share the ancient teachings of yoga in the most accessible way for the everyday yogi.