Theresa Shay

11/29/2012
Home base: Centre Hall, PA
TriYoga Center of Central PA
Q: When and how did TriYoga become part of your life?
A: I came to TY in 1995, when my yoga teacher (Kashi) invited me to go to a weekend yoga workshop with a woman named Kali Ray who was teaching in Manayunk, Pennsylvania. Kashi had been teaching another style of yoga which hadn’t helped my very active mind find calm. At that event, Kashi realized she was to teach TriYoga®. I was eager to study this style even though after that week-end with Kaliji, I had an incredible headache.  It felt as if my head had just learned it was attached to a body and my neck couldn’t handle it. Though, somehow I knew that was due to the powerful effects on this practice.  I also remember being bewildered in some of the poses. I was in Extended Penguin thinking: “What are we doing here? How long is she going to make us stay like this?” But the more I did it with Kashi, the more I loved it.
Q: Did you like it more than the style Kashi taught before?
A: Oh, yes. That other style didn’t address the challenge of my rambunctious mind. Once I tried TriYoga, I noticed the difference right away. The breath and the way the movements are put together helped me anchor myself and pay attention to something besides my constant planning, chatter, worry, etc.
Q: So it was the beauty and magic of the flows that drew you in the TriYoga?
A: Yes. In the beginning, I came to yoga because of the physical benefits. I grew up with a back brace for scoliosis, that I wore 23 hours a day. I was severely detached from my body and had never liked to do anything physical. I consider it Divine intervention that I was delivered to the TriYoga path, full of its spinal waves. The TY journey helped me reclaim my spine and fall in love with my curves the natural ones and my unique ones. My experience of discovering I have a body, that it flows, and that it is a vehicle for Prana has opened me to the Universal Consciousness, as Kaliji has taught: the mother (energy) points to the father (consciousness) and says, “You came from that.”
photo of Theresa and KalijiQ: Did you feel a special connection with Kaliji from the very first day you met her?
A: In the beginning, I was the wide-eyed nervous one hanging back around Kaliji. I did not know what to think when I saw how some people were treating her and relating to her. It was easy to hang back and observe because Kashi was so committed to her path with Kaliji. I enjoyed the chanting (I grew up playing music), I loved the flows, and I loved the breath, but I didn’t know what to make of the rest. I would watch the puja ceremonies and the mudra flows with one eye on Kaliji and one eye on the rest of the group, wondering if I could figure out how to feel/be/act if I watched everyone else.
I remember that I was skeptical about many things, particularly Kaliji’s smile, how could anyone smile that much, be so happy, and really mean it?
But the flow speaks for itself. I kept practicing and this opened up a whole new perspective and understanding of who Kaliji is and what she teaches.
Q: Was there any particular moment when you realized how much TriYoga and Kaliji mean for you?
A: There was a series of events.
Two and a half years after meeting Kaliji and becoming a student of TriYoga, I left the US to go teach in India at an international school. Leaving my TriYoga teachers behind was a big step because I had to make the practice my own. I was also invited to teach yoga at the college in India. When the yoga teacher saw the flows, she turned the program over to TriYoga. Without question, the depth and beauty of the flow came through powerfully. People were eager to receive what I could pass on, and I realized I had learned a lot in Pennsylvania. I also realized my sharing the knowledge was needed and welcomed.

Kaliji has always given me permission to be wherever I am however I am.  Once I shared my unease about my relationship with her. I told her, “I’m not really looking for a guru and I don’t consider you my guru.”  She asked, “What do you consider me?” “My teacher and my friend.”  Without skipping a beat, she said, “OK, then I’ll be your teacher and your friend.” I couldn’t believe it was that easy!  (Wise Guru!)  She accepted me as I was and put me at ease. That was the permission I needed to sink in and relaxed the whole point of TriYoga. That’s when the transformation comes. You don’t have to work hard or strive or force anything. You just have to be present and calm. The Flow takes care of the rest.

While I was in India I had the opportunity to go to the TY center that had been established by the late Col. Mehta. I traveled north and shared the flows at a workshop on Col. Mehta’s roof. I was so happy teaching there. On the last day of the two-week event, it was my birthday. The group gathered in the Mehtas’ living room. One by one the students came by and offered gratitude. They did everything I had not understood around Swamiji and Kaliji and had tried to avoid by not going getting too involved in Guru scene. One student commented, “You seem so happy. Do you always smile so much?” I burst into laughter.

In watching people express their devotion and gratitude to Swamiji and Kaliji, and I had thought the Gurus were desiring such a response, expecting it, and feeling grand when they got it. Suddenly, I realized the Gurus have no expectation or desire. They share without attachment, and sometimes those who receive the teaching answer it with devotion. Kaliji never wanted anything from me, never thought I was doing it wrong or right. She didn’t care if I stood at the edge of the room or offered a full pranam at her feet. She was simply sharing the wisdom and by her steady and loving presence, she was inviting me to embrace the same in my life.
photo of Theresa playing harmoniumQ: How did Kaliji’s presence influence your life, your outlook on the world and your self?
A: Kaliji and TriYoga brought me to God.
In 2002 I left my work as a middle school teacher to sit still and do only things I loved because the previous year had been really hard. For years I had heard Kaliji speak of “spontaneous kriyas”.  I would tune out, as such stories made absolutely no sense to me. But there in my own body, one September evening, waves of Prana were flowing through and taking me into postures and awareness I had never before touched. Insight, bliss, and peace filled me, and certain knowledge that God exists. Part of that experience included fear, the fear that I was going out of my mind. In the best possible way, I was. I was blessed to be able to turn to Kaliji, who could explain what was happening, reassure and encourage, and who could articulate what I was experiencing before I even know how to phrase my questions about it.
The power of the flows cannot be underestimated. It is a transformative path. Even if one is scared, timid, resistant, skeptical, if you just keep doing the practice, amazing things open up. TriYoga is a path to realizing what is true, what is real, and what exists within. By simply being willing to breathe with awareness, the practice speaks, and we come to know we are in the arms of the Divine.
Q: What does teaching TriYoga mean for you?
A: There is nothing more in life that I love more than sharing this gift. I love holding space for students to have their experiences:  to be sad, excited, inconsistent, lonely, scared, overwhelmed, amazed, timid, skeptical; I let my life be the proof and provide the security for those less certain. Kaliji has taught me how to stay steady and relaxed and unattached to getting people somewhere, the way she supported my way into the Flow. I want to give students and all those I meet in life space to be as they are unburdened by expectations or judgments. I aim to have my life flow out of me and be the wisdom that is TY.
Q: What makes a good TriYoga teacher?
A: What makes Kaliji an incredible teacher, and what makes each of us a good teacher, is we teach out of our own experience.  We learn cues and alignments, but what we are sharing as teachers is Presence and Connection. The flows are an alchemy that reconfigures what we think we are and reminds us who we truly are. If we are conscious in that process, we become teachers who hold space for others to be transformed. We don’t need to push or hold back, encourage, or even assess. We don’t have to know what’s needed. We don’t even have to be teachers on a mat to pass this along. We can show up, open up, and the wisdom pours out.

When I share TriYoga, I share the presence that draws people into their fullness, brings  them out of their shrinking, hiding, and fearing. The Flow is in everyone, but it takes a lot for most of us to trust it and let it free. The Truth enlivens bodies. The Truth changes minds. The Truth reconfigures lives. The Truth affects our relationships. It’s a powerful path: wide, deep, and infinite.  May my every step be grounded in this Flow and connected to the Source. I am so blessed, so grateful, and so honored to be a part of this moment on the journey.