Like many seekers, for many years I walked down the path of yoga without significant guidance. I had many wonderful teachers, a voracious desire for freedom, (moksha), and an unquestioning faith (shruddha) that it was a worthwhile journey, but I always felt like the orphan who just has to make it on her own, and does, because of her pluck and will.
8 Limbs was born out of that will, and that faith, and a desire to form community of others interested in the gifts that yoga offers. It was, and remains, a place where there is no one teacher, no one style, no singular way to do yoga.
In those early years I enjoyed dancing through the field of yoga, the many teachers and styles and philosophies. I fancied myself not the “guru” type, and uninterested in finding one path to settle into. I loved that Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras offered many practices to yoga, that yoga had six margas – paths – to choose from, and that yoga could be adapted to the individual, rather than the opposite. I embraced that, and still do.
Eventually there arose in me a hunger for a teacher, someone to guide me, Anne Phyfe, with all her strengths and weaknesses, her desires and aversions, to a place of calm, steady strength, and to more lasting contentment. I was ready.
Within a year of putting that intention, or sankalpa out there, I met the first of my two teachers, Shari, in 1998. I felt immediately at home, the kind with a fire in the hearth and warm bread baking. Shari (Friedrichsen) offered me a way into the emotional possibilities of the practice, through the body. She had spent years in personal study and sadhana (practice), investigating her demons and patterns, and had come out the other side a shining beacon. I followed it, and her, whenever I could and dove into layers of my own karma.
In 2003 I met Rod Stryker. This again felt like home, but this teacher came with an extended family. Rod, who I now call Yogarupa out of respect, was so clearly connected to his own teacher, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, and his teacher’s teacher, the Himalayan Master Swami Rama. He was part of a powerful lineage, tracing back to Adi Shankaracharya, one of the greatest teachers in India’s history.
I could feel the power, the Shakti, of these teachings. I was receiving oral transmission of practices and knowledge in an unbroken link from teacher to student over hundreds of years. It felt like grace, and magic, and relief.
A few years later I found out that Shari had become a student of Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, who is known by many as, simply, “Panditji.” She had, herself, put out the intention to find a master who could guide her to the next level of awareness, and the teacher had materialized. Shari even moved to The Himalayan Institute, where Panditji lives and teaches, to be closer to him. By chance, or not, both of these beloved teachers of mine had the very same teacher.
This month Panditji is coming to Seattle and I (and I hope many of you) will meet him for the first time. It is an incredible honor for 8 Limbs, and feels quite beyond words. He’s been described to me as a teddy bear, and a storyteller, and a wise, wise man.
This past month I have had the amazing grace to spend extended time with both of my yoga teachers. It has strengthened in me the importance of transmission, of passing on these teachings from one human to another. Knowledge is power, and power is required for us to find and follow our path, our dharma. I hope you’ll join us in welcoming my “grand teacher” to 8 Limbs at 7pm on June 22. The event is at the First Covenant Church, 400 E. Pike St. Click here to register.
Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer