So, as many of you know, last weekend I hosted Max Strom during his first visit to Scotland. What you may not know is that this was the most significant event in my career so far.
I have been in love with Max Strom and his teachings since I read his first book back in 2010. I have been to see him twice and included his books on my required reading list for the Yoga Teacher Training courses I run. In fact, it was on one of my courses that I got talking about Max and a couple of my students suggested I invite him to Edinburgh.
I went home that night and hesitantly emailed his team. Imagine how thrilled I was to receive an email from Max himself just a few days later saying he would love to visit Scotland!
But, of course, that’s when the real work started. I had to find an appropriate venue and then market the workshops like crazy to fill the venue. And I had to do this in spite of the fears of some of my team that this would prove an impossible task.
I had to find an appropriate venue and then market the workshops like crazy to fill the venue. And I had to do this in spite of the fears of some of my team that this would prove an impossible task.
(Although she will admit she was one of the fearful ones, I want to publicly thank Chris Flannery because her support throughout the entire process has been invaluable, not to mention her fantastic organisational skills during the actual weekend).
I am very proud of the venue we found and of the work I did over 6 months to encourage almost 40 people to join us. I pulled off the impossible as it really was a very special weekend and I was so happy to share it with everyone.
Max was as wonderful as I remembered him. For a 6’5″ man he is not overpowering but rather he makes his audience feel safe. He’s like a gentle giant who held everyone safely with his words, his actions and his general demeanour (or, as you’ll read later, his intention). His combination of lecture, breathwork and movement left everyone on a high after the first night’s lecture “Vital Life – Better Sleep.”
On Saturday we began with a session: “Learn to Breathe, to Heal Yourself and Your Relationships” where Max explained the importance of breathing to our physical and emotional health. He showed us how to practice Ocean Breathing and we then did some physical movement to add to the breathwork. This is so contrary to what many people, including many yoga teachers, do. I know that I have had a tendency to focus on the physical elements to the detriment of the breathing practices in the past.
Saturday afternoon continued the moving and breathing theme with “Opening the Chest and Shoulders – a New State of Energy” which was a challenging session but not because the asanas were advanced. Instead, it was because of practicing basic movements with all our focus on breathing. It was energising though, rather than exhausting.
Sunday morning brought more movement with a session on “Yoga and the Power of Intention: On & Beyond the Mat” after which Max explained how we filter the world according to our intentions. He then asked us to question if our intentions are truly our own or if they are a product of our environment and gave us a homework exercise to go out into a crowded place and decide to look for a saint in every crowd rather than using our normal filters. This exercise changes our subconscious filter so that we begin to see the good in people. I highly recommend you try it yourself!
The whole weekend had been gearing up to the last session and it didn’t disappoint. It was less physically demanding but more mentally and emotionally challenging than all the others. It was called “Crisis is the axis for transformation” and it dealt with stress, anxiety and depression. Max asked us questions that we journalled about and he finished with a very powerful meditation. It was so powerful that I can’t write about it without tears so I shall stop there.
I am finding it difficult to put into words how life-affirming the whole experience was, for all of us, and how proud I am that I was able to introduce so many people to Max’s wisdom and change their lives as a result. And Max himself, while he must have been tired at the end of 2 months of lecturing, was inspired by the people he met and is keen to return to Scotland in the near future!
So, all I can say is, I DID THAT!