Stories From WLTT: Death As Transcendence

In my third week of my Wanderlust Teacher Training in Austin, Texas, we began the morning as usual…

In my third week of my Wanderlust Teacher Training in Austin, Texas, we began the morning as usual – my 12 yogi sisters, two teachers and I circled up on the floor. We were making our way around from one girl to the next, sharing in a sacred circle of trust and love.

That morning, my grandmother, after five years of fighting stage five Leukemia, had been placed in hospice. As I shared this news with the group, I began to tear up. But, before I completely broke down, Erin, our instructor, explained that when a person passes, they’re transcending.

Transcendence is not something I’d often thought of when I pondered death. This was a defining moment. It interrupted my state of sadness and created a space in which I could acknowledge death as a positive transformation, rather than darkness. I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of warmth and comfort.

The next day, I learned that my grandmother had “transcended.” I walked out of class onto the studio’s patio and stood in a glorious beam of sunshine. With my arms lifted towards the sky and my eyes closed, I just breathed. When I returned to class, they had just began our morning asana yoga practice. With a sigh of relief, I stepped on my mat and found my first pose. With every breath I took, I felt myself moving inward. Tears flooded down my face.

I had never cried like that before. I-N-T-E-N-S-E. I felt as though I embodied my grandmother’s spirit and love. I was enveloped with sadness, but also equally serene. My heart felt like it physically hurt and the thoughts and memories of my grandmother raced through my mind. When we were instructed to move into pigeon pose, I was done for. It all came pouring out. My sisters and instructors held space for me and allowed for my release.

Shortly thereafter, I felt a change. I felt free. My heart and mind were open and full of love. I became aware of the possibilities that exist when we step outside of ourselves. I had allowed my practice to wholeheartedly release the sorrow from within my mind and body. It was although I had been cleansed and relinquished.

My teacher training allowed me to create the space to accept one of the greatest losses of my life. In those 30 days of what felt like never-ending yoga training, I learned and experienced more than I thought possible. I learned to find love in everything; my mind, my body, my friends, family, and all the curve balls that life throws at me. It taught me to face sadness with love, to be open at a time when I wanted to be closed, and it taught me find light in a sea of darkness.

photo by Dieter Kaupp

zuzuZuzu is a California girl currently living and loving, in Austin, TX. If you asked her to explain what she “does” in life, she would probably explain herself in one excited, expansive gapping breath. It’s a task to explain that you’re an artist, adventurist, photographer, event planner, graffiti writer, socialite, and a yoga instructor for a living! Her wild wanderlust soul is sustained by her creativity, love for life and her many travel adventures. Zuzu believes nothing more than, “during our short time here, we should all focus on adding our own brilliant light onto the world”. She recently graduated from the first ever Wanderlust teacher training and is now continuing her beautiful journey along the yogic path of life, and loving every second of it.