So this week I donated most of my pre-med Chemistry and science books to my local library and Save the Children charity shop, having finally discovered that my dharma, truly, is to teach yoga…What a journey this life has taken me on so far!
I like how one precious Soul Sister puts it…”I was a late bloomer”. But the truth for me is that I simply came into this life with a LOT of heavy karma to work through; lots of formidable challenges and not much (human) guidance. My Soul Sister doesn’t recognise karma. It doesn’t really matter and I do agree that it is a fruitless exercise to ponder what one’s past life or lives might have been. Just to dwell in the present is enough. (In time, a deep and true spiritual yoga practice – in its higher stages, will reveal all this in any case!)
My foray into medicine was well intentioned and followed a powerful hunch that I should pursue the lofty goal of becoming a doctor – after all, I had loved the anatomy element of my training as a massage therapist. (I’d even been put in with the “bright kids” at high school for science – but never quite reached my potential). I was especially pleased with myself that I aced my training as a massage therapist, for at the time I was technically homeless. And I would not have succeeded were it not for the Angels who cared for me at that time, both Celestial and in the guise of loving friends. One by one they stepped up when I needed them most; a sofa here, a bed there, until I was back on my feet.
In this life I have been (and still am some of the following!) a professional dancer, dance teacher, writer, and singer/songwriter…But I never managed to achieve lasting success in many of these areas. After returning from Los Angeles (Maybe one day I’ll share that story with you too) without a record deal, I was beginning to wonder if I was destined to forever be a “jack of all trades, master of none”.
Then I met my true yoga teacher. Yoga has always been with me. I’ve practiced since I was a teenager. Every day whilst in LA, I’d get up and do my Ashtanga practice, then vocal work/recording. I love the sun and it was easy for me to maintain my ideal of a mostly raw diet and daily practice there. (Although when I think about it, I also, sometimes, went overboard on the junk food too! It is also junk food heaven if you know where to go!). The climate was perfect for this body.
Anyway, after I met my true teacher everything began to change. His name is Sri Yogi Prakash Shankar Vyas. From now I on I will refer to him simply using his respectful name: “Guruji”.
Guruji gave me his blessing to train formally as a Yoga teacher; something I had also wanted to do for many years. But then, nothing. I could not sustain a core group of students where I live in the British countryside. Hence the final detour into medicine – something solid, reliable, recognised. It was a hard slog, two years of failing exams – well not all of them, but the most important ones, like “GAMSAT”. For a long time towards the end of my efforts and afterwards, I felt gutted that my intuition had seemingly taken me down a “wrong road,” for two years.
So, you might be wondering, where does the Love come in? Well, I met my Soul Mate during my last ditch effort to pass entry exams…I’m smiling now as I write, but maybe you can imagine how torn I felt back then. I knew it was crunch time. I had to decide if I was going to continue bashing my head against a brick wall or surrender. Let go of all fear about the chorus of: “I told you so!” from the naysayers (actually they were thankfully few), let go of the embarrassment of having told so many that I was going into medicine, when actually, for me, it was like climbing a giant popsicle! Anyway, finally I chose love. Love chose me, in more ways than one.
But the “come down” from such intense study was bizarre, it was hard. But Kriya Yoga – my dearest friend, the teacher within this body; my Soul, my Guruji, all sustained me…
Now I have the most gorgeous students who appreciate my mix of asana and Yoga Nidra – (which in particular, Guruji has guided me to teach). I learned so much from those years of study, about myself, about life. And I met some of the most adorable future medics, ever. And all that pre-med now feeds into everything I can offer my students and clients. It complements the holistic therapies that the intuitive healer within has always offered.
There are no mistakes or wrong turns in this life – that’s one thing I’ve learned. And on the spiritual path: “everything is reverse” as my Guruji has said. My interpretation of this is that outward success and the trappings of success, recognisable in the worldly sense – (though perfectly wonderful in their time and place), are not always immediately available to the yoga practitioner, on the road to becoming a true yogi (as in, master). Failure, even broken dreams are sometimes part of the path. And part of breaking down the ego. As one Master once said (sang, actually):
“Bear insult, bear injury, that is the highest sadhana (practice).” – Swarmi Sivananda. (“Light on the Guru and Disciple Relationship” by Swarmi Satyasangananda).
Don’t get me wrong, abundance is there, Great Love, bliss is there…just not always necessarily in the form that is readily apparent to all….It’s all inside. And at last, it feels like it’s all around me now too. At least, most of the time!
P.S. The title of this blog was inspired by the beautiful book entitled:
“Love, Medicine and Miracles” by Bernie Siegel. Highly recommended.
Gwendoline Odeluga is a Yoga teacher and Massage therapist. She has been practicing Yoga asana for over 20 years. Her style of teaching is influenced by her professional training as a dancer and the dynamic form of Hatha Yoga associated with Ashtanga practice. She also teaches Yoga Nidra. Gwendoline met her true teacher, Sri Yogi Prakash Shankar Vyas, “Guruji” in 2007 and Kriya Yoga is central to her way of life. She currently teaches Yoga and treats clients from Sidmouth, East Devon in the United Kingdom.