As a little girl, my biggest wish was to dance. And not just any dance would do, it was the willowy limbs and lithe torsos of the ballerinas and their graceful, effortless movements that stirred something magical awake inside me. They swayed like supple trees, free to move in any direction while rooted miraculously on the tips of their toes. From the first time I watched Nutcracker broadcast on public TV I was hooked. “Mom, I wanna dance ballet” was my mantra for months on end. That mantra was always met with my mother’s response of “you’re just not built for it, Terilyn, God blessed some people with bodies and others with brains, use the brains God gave you kid.” This seed was planted deep in my psyche and I grew up knowing to avoid all things athletic and express art on paper not on pointe.
Now, what I know to be true is the gods gave me some of the most open and supple hip joints, sincere love of movement and a flair for the dramatic that could rival a prima ballerina. My mother, best intentions aside, was the one who gave me my first of many lessons in self imposed limitations and stereotypes. Is it any wonder I have spent my entire career using the strength of my body to liberate the mobility of others through massage therapy or that my first onsite massage gig was at Pacific NW Ballet?
It was around this same time when I was 8 and 9 years old that the TV show “That’s Incredible!” gave me my first glimpse of a yogi. I was mesmerized by the way he calmly contorted his body while kissing his feet then placing them both behind his head, such obvious love for his own body and no limits to what he could do. Wow. I spent the next few years watching TV in danurasana or baddha konasana and always kissing my toes.
I can still remember walking into my first vinyasa class at the gym and finding Amelia, an amazing teacher in that unlikely place. The candles, and music set the stage, her voice sounding like incantations as the Sanskrit flowed out like her native tongue. Oh yes I’d found my dance teacher at last. Tough but always encouraging, she made you believe you could do the impossible, she seemed to believe in me so much I couldn’t help but believe in myself too. Limitations and stereotypes seemed to truly amuse her and slowly I saw how funny it was that I would ever put myself in a category of “too heavy or too weak,” “not built for that pose.”
I found true liberation flowing with my breath, linking asana like a sacred dance, a dance of reclaiming my passion for movement, of connecting with a loving, forgiving, strong divine force that drove me back to my mat again and again. I found my inner athlete, my inner ballerina and I wasn’t afraid to let her loose. I was experiencing grace.
Now I have the honor of sharing what has proved to be my most beneficial lesson: we only touch on a glimpse of our true power when we experience grace, and that wisdom is gained from letting go of judgment and stereotypes and remaining open to possibility and that secret heart’s desire.
I am so grateful to the 8 Limbs community of students, teachers, managers and directors for always supporting who I am as a teacher and yogini without limitation or judgment.
As I stand in front of a full room of yogis, spilling out of my large yoga top with extra large enthusiasm for this divine dance, I know we create sacred space for us all: the young and old people, the big and small people, all walks of life, to move beyond our perceived limitations and experience liberation and grace. Find what you love and share it with everyone!
Terilyn Wyre teaches 6 classes a week at 8 Limbs West Seattle and now at 8 Limbs Capitol Hill (Sundays at 5pm). Terilyn will be subbing Anne Phyfe’s Monday 7:15pm practice at 8 Limbs Capitol Hill on November 14 and 21. Come and check out the amazing space she holds.