My Teacher ‘Still’
No new comer to the media Agnes Hartley who is a dear friend of Mark Whitwell of ‘Heart of Yoga’ (see link below) and now well into her 80’s remembers with deep abiding fondness the days she and Mark spent in India apprenticed under the traditions of T. Krishnamacharya and his son TKV Desikachar and how Mark took her hand to steady her as they were climbing whilst on a sacred pilgrimage a mountain that challenged her older and slighter frame – just a little!
Agnes laughs over these memories.
Agnes Hartley was one of the earliest yoga teachers in New Zealand and opened up her yoga school known as ‘The Agnes Hartley Yoga School’ in Whangarei during the 1960’s. Her classes usually held 60-100 participants sometimes she says she was just not able to see everyone in attendance – the yoga scene was flourishing and growing like topsy, in the halcyon days of the Hippy movement, flower power and the emerging new culture that was the 60’s.
She was also instrumental in the establishment of the Aio Wira Retreat Centre a place of extra-ordinary energies…
And speaking of extra ordinary energies Agnes is bestowed with remarkable energy – still.
I am in my opinion lucky to have been a student of Agnes Hartley…
Few people teach like Agnes – and even fewer now, she is a dying breed.
Agnes is moved to teach as she was apprenticed in the path of the early greats such as Indra Devi – with the greatest of reverence to the very nature of yoga – to join and in so doing make complete or whole and as such the entire practice becomes a moving prayer, a dedication to not just a teacher but a lineage.
Few teachers these day train under a lineage and fewer still are apprenticed to a life long journey of reverence to share their ‘teachers’ knowledge.
Until very recently Agnes was teaching classes – then illness attributable to the influences of old age meant she went into hospital.
The last classes Agnes took were at the beautiful residential village in Whangarei where she lives with her husband Keith. However she is still a teacher and though my visits no longer include Asana practice we practice the art of yoga.
Yoga is an Artform.
Not as dance is but without choreography it is an expression of the truth of where one really ‘is’ now, here…
…the space one occupies and how this interfaces with the world.
Is it a radient light or a dull shadow?
With Agnes it is always a radient light, she glows illuminated as if from the inside out. Her eyes sparkle with life and joy and yogic wisdoms fall from her lips like manna, nourishing and causing me to wonder how many more facets of yogic lore abound that I am yet to learn.
As we sit in the plant filled atrium and light filters the air about us I see Agnes cloaked in a halo that cascades from above her head encompassing her. Although I can reach through and touch her as I hug her hello and goodbye – it is as if she is already an angel on a mission, a healer a teacher.
One of the last few remaining ones of her kind.
As we part and I bow ‘Namaste’, she smiles a knowing wise benevolent smile, and for a moment appears larger than life itself then becomes ‘still’.
Beautiful in her stillness.
I am remninded to be still, to experience the stillness of life,
Agnes is my teacher ‘still’.
If you want to reach out to Agnes by all means drop me a line either on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/yogascene/ or https://www.facebook.com/susan.pryor.9 and I can either pass on your wishes or give you her address – she would love to hear from anyone interested in Yoga!