by Nina Triolo, Gentle Yogis Faculty
In July 2017, I had the honor of assisting my teacher, mentor and friend, Rudy Peirce, for a 5-day Dynamic Gentle Yoga program at Kripalu. Because I am a longtime student of Kripalu Yoga and a past participant in Rudy’s yoga teacher training, workshops and programs, I was so excited to be a working part of the magic that happens when we immerse ourselves in Rudy’s unique approach to breath and mindful movements.
As a faculty assistant, my job that week was to ensure that every person was comfortable and able to participate as fully as possible. I was also there to support Rudy if anything came up that he needed. When assisting at Kripalu, we generally don’t leave the room without communicating; we never know what needs might arise for guests or for the program director.
In this Dynamic Gentle Yoga retreat, our ages ranged from 20 years old to 95. For five days, we all moved and breathed together. By the fifth day, we were family. On that final day, Rudy had planned a longer than usual relaxation and had special music programmed to support the experience. I sat and watched everyone melting into their mats. It was a beautiful moment to behold…until I heard the notes of a familiar song.
Memories are one of the important ways in which music evokes emotions. The song that Rudy was playing was Sanctuary” by Donna De Lory. This was one of the songs I had played on an endless loop the night I lost my father.
Like many little girls, my father was my hero. As I grew and matured, he became my best friend. He was a strong, vibrant man who gave great hugs and loved life. He supported me in every aspect of my life and was my biggest cheerleader.
And then he fell; only five days later, that vibrant, loving, larger-than-life hero of mine was gone. During those precious last few days, I spent as much time with him as I could, though he wasn’t communicating very much. At the end of our last visit, I kissed him and told him I would be back tomorrow. He smiled and said “I will be right here”. These were the first words he had said in three days and the last words I heard from him; by the time I arrived home he was already gone.
The pain was so deep; I knew I would have to sit with the grief, but I wasn’t ready. So I played ‘Sanctuary’ on an endless loop as I gathered pictures for his memorial.
So, when I was assisting Rudy at Kripalu and those first chords of that same song came on, the tears just started to fall. I tried really hard to stop them, but they just kept coming and coming; I was sniffling and didn’t want to disturb our sangha as they rested. So, I left the room, walked away from my responsibilities and stood in the hallway for what seemed like forever before I could bring myself back. Later, as I tried apologetically to explain to Rudy why I had left the room, he stopped me and said, “What would this moment look like, if you didn’t feel the need to apologize? What would your life look like if you didn’t feel the need to apologize?”
Years ago, in my yoga teacher training, we students called these golden words “Rudy nuggets”. There are moments when he just drops something so simple and profound that it is life-changing. I took that lesson with me, noticing how the moment transformed when I released my need to explain and make excuses for my emotions. Now when I hear that song, it brings a smile to my face as I remember the loving kindness of my friend who gave me permission to just be.
Join us to see what “Rudy nuggets” might appear in the next Dynamic Gentle Yoga retreat, Dec 2-4 at Kripalu. And you can bask in Nina’s joyful glow when you join her weekly for Gentle Chair Yoga class on Tuesdays from 5:00-6:00pm Eastern.,