The Gift That Is Francesca Asumah

I did my first ninety minute hot yoga session on Thursday night. Never mind when I arrived at Hot8 Yoga on Wilshire, my intention was to do yoga sculpt. I even repeated it when asked by Tim at the front desk, “Which class are you taking?” Yoga sculpt. I’m taking sculpt.

As I made my way to the changing room I took notice of the crowd already gathered for hot yoga with the magical goddess I’d heard so much about, Francesca Asumah. And there she was. Standing amidst the quiet fray of yogis clamoring for her attention. Bright in appearance. Colorful in spirit. Completely engaging each and every one of them like a doting mother over her tribe of eager children. Her energy centered. Her vibe balanced.

I hadn’t realized I had stopped when someone else familiar asked, “Which class are you taking?” Quickly giving them my earlier answer to avoid the repeated dance, I saw Francesca glance my way as I offered up an excuse as to why I was not taking her class. She didn’t seem bothered nor indifferent. She looked at me with a complete understanding. Almost as if to say you owe me nothing. The universe knows.

It was in that moment that I knew I had to take her class. Set aside all fear. I can’t be in a heated room for that length of time. And doubt. I won’t be able to do all of the postures. There are 26 static postures achieved. It is considered one of the most challenging classes at the studio. I can’t do it. I can do it. I must do it.

Before I had a chance to change my mind I shot up front to where Tim was still standing and blurted out, “I’m going to take hot yoga instead.” He cheered me on telling me that it was one of the best classes at the studio. Tonight especially because it was with Francesca.

Ten minutes later I was inside the heated room. Temperatures reaching beyond the one hundred degree mark. Soon the ninety minute bubble began to fade. Along with all questioning thoughts. Much like a clock on
a wall that was never present.

Francesca became all of the things that I’d heard so often whispered. Spiritual guide. Earth mother. Descendant of the ancients. Embodying those who’ve come before us. Leaving behind their wisdom and teachings. Strengthening our practice.

That night she became their vessel. Challenging us to go deeper. Knowing when to press. When to back off. Her energetic encouragement often interchanging with her constant kneading of each yogi’s dough. As students fell in and out of postures, myself included, Francesca reminded us that it wasn’t important how high we kicked our legs up in standing bow pose or how far back we leaned in camel pose .

It wasn’t about ego. Or surpassing whomever stood on either sides of our mats. It was only about that moment. The breath. The movement. Connecting us to something far greater than ourselves. Allowing us to explore all that is possible and that which we thought was not. Deepening our reserve. Quieting the head chatter. Ceasing all need to compete. Simply surrendering to the gift…that is yoga.

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