|Photo by the beautiful Katie Kaizer. She is an amazing photographer and Journalist. See more of her work at http://www.katiekaizerphotography.com/|
"Do you know what seva is? It’s the selfless act of being in service to anyone or anything that needs your helping hands. The more fully you give yourself to this calling now, the more amazing your world becomes."
I pulled into the Cisco beach parking lot a little before 9AM Tuesday morning. A line of surfers was already present on the water, waiting the moment they might catch The Wave. The sun was beginning to peek out from the clouds and I was certain this day was going to be especially beautiful.
I scanned the line of cars for a grey Land-cruiser. An open car door revealed a girl, relaxing, watching the waves slowing rolling onto the shore. The back of the truck was open, a few coolers and beach gear barely filling up the back. I spotted what I was looking for: a set of yoga mats situated in a ‘ready to go’ position. This must be the girl I was here to meet and she could not appear to be any cooler! I grabbed my trash bag and headed over to the car.
The woman’s feet moved and a petite dark brown-haired woman emerged from the truck. “You must be Dorothy.” She had a sweet, calm and easy nature that instantly put me in relaxed mode. She lifted her sunglasses to greet me, and her natural beauty radiated from within.
“No make-up and stunning. She’s a true Yogi,” I thought to myself as we finished our introductions. We spoke for a while as we waited to see if any other participants would arrive. When it was looking as though it would be just the two of us, I was sure she was going to call it off until another time…why clean the beach and teach a class with just one person?
Samantha Rudofsky, has started a new initiative called Karma "Yoga on the Rock", which is open to anyone who wishes to participate. Willing and able bodies may meet at Cisco beach parking lot on Tuesdays at 9AM for a half hour of beach clean-up. Then, rewarding people’s efforts, Samantha will teach a free yoga class. Karma "Yoga on the Rock" is all about giving back to the community and the Earth.
After five or ten minutes had passed, she looked at me and said, “Shall we start?” Surprised and excited, I clutched my trash bag and followed her to the beach. We started to walk along the dunes. At first we were finding small pieces of debris. As we picked up the cigarette butts and small pieces of paper, Samantha and I continued our chat. I wanted to know more about her…why she was doing what she was doing. Where she was from? I’d never seen her before, but we have many mutual Facebook friends. I wanted to know why she was doing Karma Yoga. Being an Island girl, my appreciation for the island is deeply rooted in my veins. More often than not, I see visitors to Nantucket have two notions in mind: Make money, and party. They work whatever job they came here to do and partake in the nightlife/beach life. Once the air starts to become cooler and the island population begins to diminish, so do the people who say they ‘love’ Nantucket so much. It’s a rarity to see someone so focused on giving back. Samantha was pleased by the very fact that I showed up. She honored me in that moment.
I was entranced when Samantha started to explain her inspiration for Karma "Yoga on the Rock".
Samantha, who is the founder of Guru Chakra, LLC ~ Om Ack said, “There’s more to yoga than just poses,” as she picked up a piece of plastic off the beach and placed the debris in her trash bag. As we got deeper into the conversation, I realized the place Samantha was coming from was Love. Love of Nantucket, love of community, love of the Earth, a sheer love of life and everything living.
At the very moment of feeling in awe of Samantha and what drives her, I discover that we are collecting quite a bit of trash off the beach. When I first felt the sand between my feet this morning, the thought that traveled through my mind was “How much can two people really do? How much trash are we really going to collect? Will this even make a difference?” My bag was starting to become heavier and I realized just what two people could really do. Samantha hadn’t even started the yoga class and already I was learning something.
Two other women soon joined us. The four of us went up and down the beach collecting various items that were either left behind or had washed ashore. I was shocked by some of the items we found. In half an hour of cleaning, we found a large green chair, a full fisherman’s net, and a plastic bag from a supermarket full of apples, a large rusty tin can, and a plethora of deflated balloons, and so on. The beach looked relatively clean before we started but to my surprise, it didn’t take long to fill up our trash bags.
Once the trash had been collected we took a break. Samantha brought fresh watermelon and water infused with lemons to quench our thirst. We nibbled on the watermelon and sipped the much-needed refreshing water before gathering our yoga mats and heading down the beach. With yoga mat, water bottle and towel in hand, I found I had difficulty making my way through the pliable sand. If I am hardly able to walk in the sand, how am I going to practice yoga? I hadn’t taken a yoga class in years and I was beginning to get nervous.
Samantha picked a spot that was semi-shielded from the wind. We staggered our yoga mats and she began the class. (I thought, “Forgive me, Universe, for it has been years since my last real yoga class.”) Even though I was slightly embarrassed by my lack of correct body alignment, Samantha was an ever humble and understanding teacher, reminding us all that the most important thing to remember was our breathing. After her calming voice stated this, I listened to my body. There were multiple occasions when I couldn’t hold the simplest of poses and I moved my body into child’s pose. It felt right. I listened to my body, and focused on my breath. At the end of the class, the other students and I were in a fetal position on our sides. I had my eyes closed and fell into the yoga trance.
Participating in yoga on the beach is an experience I have come to find challenging, while at the same time addicting. The natural elements, wind and sand, force one to be in the moment and work a little harder to stay standing. While other natural forces like the crashing ocean waves, sunshine and slowly moving clouds allowed for a mesmerizing backdrop. While barely being able to hold myself in a pose, I glanced up to the sky to see the brightest shade of blue I have ever seen. I could feel my body sway with the wind and I could hear small, gentle waves meet the shoreline. The atmosphere had an almost lullaby/rocking effect that I found serene. I left that morning looking forward to next Tuesday’s class. Thank you, Samantha for the gift of your time and showing me how I can give more of myself.
To sign up for Tuesday’s class email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Samantha teaches Yoga and Pilates at The Studio on Nantucket as well private classes.
Website: http://www.guru-chakra.com/ (Will be up and running soon.)
This post is also on Nantucket Chronicle under Wellness/Yoga.