This post is about my recent experience with Michelle Tamblyn-Sabo’s Goddess Flow yoga class that was taught on a Sunday evening at the Toronto Yoga Show.
I did not know what to expect, nor did I know what a “Goddess Flow” really was. I figured it would be a regular yoga class with a feminine flare. But instead, it was much, much more intense and far deeper than what I thought.
It began with Michelle introducing herself and telling the story of how she came to develop what she calls a Goddess Flow. All of us women in the class had our mats in a huge circle, all of our souls connecting, feeling, uniting.
This is me paraphrasing and telling you about her story from my memory. I might be a little off and I probably forgot key details. But I will sum it up the best I can:
Michelle always practiced alignment in yoga; very linear and “by the books.” It wasn’t until she attended a friend’s wedding (where I think the bride was a yogi), when she discovered a different way of moving during yoga. Yoga mats were rolled out and they moved… less linear. It was sensual. Alignment didn’t matter. Movement was more about devotion, self-love and driven by the soul. It was sexy. I remember she mentioned that she felt awkward in the beginning. Moving in such a way, let’s say, by swinging our hips, shaking our breasts or flipping our hair, has all been sexualized and women feel shameful to move in this way. But – these movements are actually primitive. The shaking, the dancing… the fluidity and loving nature of it all.
It was five years ago when she realized she needed to create something to empower women, to gain back our confidence, our femininity, our power and our devotion to ourselves and to love. Yoga, to her, didn’t (and shouldn’t) be linear for women. Women are not linear beings. She realized after the wedding that she wasn’t ever focusing on her lower chakras; she spent so much of her time in her head and focusing on spirituality. She had been neglecting the lower part of her body. Because her lower chakras were being forgotten, she was not whole but fragmented instead.
This resonated so deeply with me when she was telling it that I had to hold back tears. It was as if she was describing myself. We are, actually, animals. We are beautiful, wild creatures and we need to be able to connect to both our primal and spiritual qualities. We deserve this. We deserve to unleash our sensuality and move freely during yoga in a non-linear way. If it feels right for your body, do it. If it doesn’t, then don’t. “Fuck alignment,” she told us.
We learned about all the Goddesses through a slideshow and how each of the Goddesses she chose helped shape her style of yoga. She has a list of them (and more about her yoga on her website).
I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know how intense this would be. Someone told me we would be making sex noises and I didn’t know if I wanted to hear the old lady beside me moaning. Would we be grabbing our boobs? Touching ourselves? I was anxious and excited; living outside of your comfort zone opens a door of self-discovery.
Before doing yoga, Michelle had a bunch of things in the center of our circle for us. There were essential oils to rub on ourselves – each one a different scent. I picked Joy. There were also these Truth Bomb cards and each had a positive little quote on them. We also chose a tarot card/some sort of Goddess card. I lathered my wrists and neck/behind my ears in joy and brought my two cards back to my mat.
We began by sitting on our mats and meditating. Michelle guided us with beautiful words of which I cannot recall – I simply remember floating.
In the centre of the room was her mat, where she was there to demonstrate how the movements worked. If I can remember correctly, we began by doing cat/cow but by adding a circular rotation and we were encouraged to really let our soul feel the movement and let it guide us. We then went on to perform more movements on the ground and then in warrior poses. Everything we did though was not a simple stance that we held; we moved sensually, often moving our hips and running our hands up and down our bodies and through our hair (we were told to let our hair loose during her class).
It felt almost like a soulful, sensual dance. And while we were doing the basic movements, we had freedom to make each one our own and add in our own arm reaches or twists in our body – basically letting ourselves feel the music and letting our souls dance to it in a way that felt good for each of us individually. None of us looked the same, where as in a standard yoga class, you could snap a photo and see everybody in the same warrior two pose.
At first, it was difficult and awkward getting my body/hips to circulate the opposite way, but I started to do my own thing and the most brilliant thing of all happened: I didn’t care what anyone thought. I tuned out the room and listened to my body. I was smiling. My hair was a mess and I was a sensual being.
I had a note written for this blog that said “child’s pose with intense eyes!! talk about this.” But the memory has become so faint that I barely remember what this was referring to. As I close my eyes and place myself back to this evening, I vaguely recall having to use my eyes in a powerful way; with passion and with intent as if I were ready to pounce on my prey (or whatever I wanted). Even a simple pose (child’s pose) became so much more than a “resting pose.” It was remarkable.
During one of our dancing warrior poses, Michelle instructed us to shoot an arrow at our dream or goal and envision it ahead of us. I had/have so many so it was difficult for me to focus my attention on one goal and aim for it. We shot our arrows and pulled in our goal or dream with our invisible rope and did that repeatedly. It was a fun little exercise and it put energy out into the universe towards what we want to attract. It’s kinda like telling It what you want: “hey Universe, this is what I’m aiming for! Pull me closer!”
The next portion of the class is difficult to put into words. I want to dance for you or show you a video. I simply cannot express internally what was going on but I’ll give an effort.
“Why do we have to be limited to moving on our mats? Walk off and away from your mat and use your hips as you walk.” Michelle demonstrated as her swaying hips and dancing soul lead her off her mat.
The music picked up with a quicker tempo and we followed her lead, stepping outside of the rectangular box and outside of our comfort zones. Initially, I was thinking far too much. What movements should I do? Where in the room should I go? What do I do with my arms now? Can I repeat that move if I just did it? Is anyone watching me? This is exactly like improv dancing and I hate improv dancing. Those annoying thoughts quickly diminished when I started focussing on what I was hearing and how that was making me feel. Essentially, I was bringing myself into the moment and out of my head. So then another brilliant thing happened: my mind was silenced and I danced around with a miraculous amount of energy and emotion. I have no idea what I looked like but I remember hearing Michelle speaking over the music to me: “Yes! Beautiful!”
After the class, numerous yogis wanted a chance to talk to Michelle. I did, too, because her story made me cry and the class created so much magic in my soul and in the room. While my friend and I waited for our turn, we started crying uncontrollably. We weren’t sad; we cried because of how beautiful the experience was. Michelle saw us and we all embraced in a hug.
I am so blessed to have been part of that experience. Thank you, thank you, thank you Michelle. You are a beaming ray of light and you helped set my soul on fire. Now, time to unblock these lower chakras…
Love & light,