There hangs a bell at the Yoga Path. Suspended toward the back of the studio on a separate section of wall in front of the kitchen door. This section of wall stands apart from all other walls at the school and joins the room only at the floor and ceiling. This isolation was the unintentional result of building movable walls that would open or close the studio, partitioning it to either two rooms or allowing for one great room. The wall has come to be known, at least by some, as the Bell Tower, because on it up about six feet, resides the heavy bell that is rung at the end of each class. At least by some.
Not all the teachers choose to ring the bell. A while back my teacher, Margaret Hahn, consented to teach at the Path. This was a great honor for me as owner of the new yoga school. Margaret had taught me at numerous locations during my many years with her. At three studios, a couple of YMCAs, four different churches, and her home. She had founded the Omaha Yoga School and from it taught me in yoga, and trained me in the teaching of it. I had been on her faculty for a number of years during that time, studying a host of yogic concepts and authors and in the course of the this long and fruitful tutelage. But in all this time, there had never been – a bell!
Margaret was always more of a drumming teacher. If you’ve ever been to her class, you know that she starts off with a circumambulation and the Prayer to Mount Kailash:
With unchanging mind I have faith,
I prostrate in homage and do circumambulation.
Bless us, so we have power to do limitless good to all being.
Bless us,so we are bound to act for the supreme liberation of all being.
Bless us, so we accomplish both our own and others good.
After prostrating and saying this pray, we walk mindfully with the teacher pounding the drum, slowly in time with our steps. One beat — you step into the present, bringing all of you awareness to the earth you standing on, at that moment. The next beat — you lift the back foot and shake off the dust of the past. Drum/ step …………drum/step……….drum/ step……. around the circle, around a likeness of Mount Kailash. In the years that Margaret has done this we’ve carried drums into schools, classrooms, libraries, and temples. When traveling I’ve seen her carry cumbersome instruments over meadows, through cornfields, across streams, into forests, up mountains, and even into earthen lodges. Even in situations where there was no drum, students would go off to gather contrivances like sticks or rocks to pound together as we circled.
And so when I was showing Margaret, with some pride, the layout of the Yoga Path, she naturally asked toward the end of the tour, where do you keep your drums? It was as though the mallet had struck the timpani of my head. Sheepishly I looked at my teacher and confessed, “I don’t have a drum Margaret.” “What do you use to teach class?” she asked quizzically, as though asking, what do you do for air? I tried to boldly put forth that I ring the bell. Then went back to the bell tower and invited the sound of the bell. As its rich resonance faded into silence she just steadfastly smiled at me with expression of “where did I go wrong with you?”
To my knowledge, Margaret Hahn has never rang the bell.
~to be continued~