Thursday, 23 December 2010

Farewell to my first yoga teacher

My first yoga teacher, Lyn Dorfling, died in South Africa on Sunday.

Lyn was a yoga pioneer in South Africa and by the time I met her in 1964 she had already studied with BKS Iyengar in India and, I think, had been initiated by him. She visited us in the Hwange Game Reserve where Roland (her nephew) was working as a ranger. Although she was his aunt, she was only five or six years older than him. Roland and I had only been married for a few weeks and I had not met many of his relatives. Lyn was married to Desmond at that time but they later divorced and she remarried. We lost touch and I believe she was widowed or perhaps divorced again. It seems she was teaching yoga right up to the end as there are classes listed for her in the studio where she worked near Johannesburg. Searching through the Internet I came across this article on pranayama written by Lyn.

Living in the wilds of Africa as we did, yoga wasn't really on the radar so when Lyn and Des plus their daughter and her boyfriend lobbed up to Main Camp - in an ancient Renault towing a fair-sized caravan - I was intrigued to meet her. Until Lyn took me through the first steps I don't recollect ever having heard about yoga.

Lyn asked me if I'd like to try something interesting so of course I said "Yes" and she said it was called "Yoga". We worked on the Sun Salutation Suraya Namaskar and then she took me through Yoga Nidra. That is when I got hooked on yoga! The family stayed for a few days and Roland showed them around the Game Reserve so they got to see elephants, lions, buffalo, giraffe - most of the bigger animals. When they left to return to South Africa, Lyn gave me a roneoed booklet with Suraya Namaskar and some other asanas. The booklet was illustrated by hand and had a green cover and it was my only text until it eventually fell to pieces from being used all the time! After Lyn and Des left Main Camp I did not have another lesson until we migrated to Australia 20 years later.

From Lyn's booklet, I moved on to Richard Hittleman and from there I slowly developed a love for the philosophy and literature of yoga as well as the asana practice. Currently, I'm studying with Georg Feuerstein and finding that fulfilling indeed.

So farewell Lyn, I am grateful that you introduced me to Yoga; it has been a constant in my life since that freezing cold day in July 1964 when I lay on the cement floor and you took me through my first Yoga Nidra.

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