Interactive yoga leads to personal journeys

Amanda Miller in yoga exercise

Amanda Miller in yoga exercise

By Eric George Tauber

Eric George Tauber

Eric George Tauber

SAN DIEGO –Chairs were crowded into a yoga studio at the School for Healing Arts in the Pacific Beach neighborhood. with sit-upons in the front row.  With my background in children’s theatre, I know how much fun it can be to have your audience actively participate rather than passively watch.  While this is not for children, it is participatory.  Having done some yoga classes myself, I opted for a sit-upon.

One Breath, Then Another (OBTA), an interactive yoga show,  is not your typical theatre experience. But Amanda Miller has not led a typical life. She received her certificate to teach yoga at an ashram in India. It was an intensive month immersed in a yogic lifestyle.

Amanda began her show with a few yoga stretches and balancing exercises. There were no sound or light cues, just her focused stillness. And the house fell into a hushed silence. For a house full of chatty Jews, that was impressive.

OBTA is an intensely personal journey for Amanda. As she leads us in yoga exercises, having us recall moments when we felt safe, it becomes a personal journey for each of us.  We chanted the ohm and laughed as we tried to repeat the tongue-twister mantras.  My favorite exercise was “the contraction and release of the anus sphincter.”  Our western culture is a little uncomfortable with that subject.  But for the release of tension, it does work.

Yoga mantras are not prayers exactly, but recitations of the various names of Hindu divinities. But when Rosh Hashana came around, her mother faxed her a page out of the machzor lest she lose touch with her identity as bat yisrael.

Amanda’s impression of Purnima, the ashram leader, is delightful.  Amanda describes Purnima as “not crazy, just really enthusiastic about yoga.”  Purnima’s bright and cheerful little voice greeted them at 5:30 each morning, reassuring them that they would soon be “so happy to greet the sunrise.”

As Amanda goes through the exercises, it brings up painful memories of her father.  She dearly loved him and lost him to his own destructive behaviors.  She also nearly lost herself to her own.

“I realize that telling the mind to calm down is like telling a drunk monkey bit by scorpions to sit down.”   -Purnima

Her greatest battle is with the voice in her own head, the bully who demands that she “work harder” and “look at what a drain [she is] to her family.”  She asks her teacher, “Can I really teach inner peace when most of the time I feel anxious enough to put my fist through glass?!”

Amanda went to the ashram to find her center, to deal with the bullying of her own mind.  There, amidst the natural beauty and third world squalor, her issues followed her and forced her to confront them.  I don’t know if she found her inner peace, but she certainly found something to write home about.  The chronicle, One Breath, Then Another by Amanda Miller is available on Amazon.

The performance has come and gone, but look for it to come back in Fringe Festivals.  As a one-woman show in a yoga studio, it travels light and this young woman is going places.

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Eric George Tauber is a freelance writer specializing in the arts.  He may be contacted  via eric.tauber@sdjewishworld.comSan Diego Jewish World seeks sponsorships to be placed, as this notice is, just below articles that appear on our site. To inquire, call editor Donald H. Harrison at (619) 265-0808 or contact him via donald.harrison@sdjewishworld.com

 

 

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