About Thyme and About Yoga
In early July 1995 I had the extreme good fortune to be at Thymeways for a 7-day retreat. Thymeways is the home, the seat, of Bruce and Maureen Carruthers. Gentle and strong, contemplative and active, these two master teachers can be credited as the individuals who brought Iyengar Yoga to the Canadian West Coast in the early ’70’s. Bruce is Dr. Carruthers, an M.D., and specialist in Internal Medicine, he also assisted B.K.S. Iyengar on the Yoga classic “Light on Pranayama”. Maureen has taught Yoga in the Vancouver area for the past 25 years.
If a teacher is first of all a model you would be hard pressed to find better. Now in their 60’s the Carruthers are like children bubbling with enthusiasm and joy as they share their practice. Together they form a dynamic couple, one complimenting the other. Intensely devoted to the complete practice of Yoga, the Carruthers demonstrate a wise and balanced approach. Asana, pranayama, meditation are all taught with great insight unburdened by unnecessary commentary. Maureen and Bruce live Yoga and it is through the living of Yoga that Yoga is learnt, – and it is learnt as a practice with no destination other than a more profound practice – daily, weekly, yearly – for yet one more lifetime.
They also have managed to create a restive healing environment of a world-class order. Settled upon the top of a ridge on Galiano Island, Thymeways, stretches across a number of acres of rocky woodlands. Golden Arbutus trees caught in Butoh contorted gestures peel off their skin and mauve poppies blossom wide showing their head, full of seed. The bones of the earth, the certainty of massive stone, discovers itself across Thymeways. These boulders demonstrate their acceptance of the light of the sun and the vagaries of the weather revealing themselves from out of the earth, like cats curled and sleeping in a blanket.
Shiva Shakti. Stillness and dynamism. Peace and energy. Heart opening. Pleasure beyond compare. The streams of the physical and the subtle meet and mix, the bio-chemistry of freedom is released, and the nectar of amrita held in the chalice of the Heart spills its honey and the body begins to glow in the pervasive light of all consuming Reality-Consciousness.
Most of the day is given over to the practice of the asana’s and meditation, you are waken by a hand bell at 6.00 a.m. and by 7.00 you are sitting in the Mediation Hall. Sitting and walking meditation for an hour. Then a silent breakfast with the accompaniment of Bach, Ustad Vilayat Khan, or a new musical discovery by Bruce. And – make no mistake, the food, -breakfast, lunch and dinner is consistently wonderful, healthy, and plentiful ( I’m a bachelor and live on toast, sushi, and the occasional litre of Hagen-das Coffee ice cream, I am probably underweight by about 15 pounds – and with all the physical exertion of 6 hours of asana practice a day I put on weight during the workshop!)
When you attend a workshop at Thymeways 2 hours a day are giving over to maintaining the home-studio. A small, raked Zen garden, just outside the floating floor Yoga studio and daily mindfulness awakens the practical ecstasy of karma yoga – of the transformative power of work. Gardening, sweeping the path, baking bread, chores that break the pattern of self concern that too often seep into the practice of the asanas. Also the architecture of the main house, where the meditation, library, kitchen, and dining hall is located is designed with Yoga in mind. It is like a spine that breathes with life across the ridge. It also contains the yoga studio that opens out to view the panorama of forest and ocean. A kind of British-Indian love of order prevails over everything at the same time as a creative flux rains its occasional fresh understanding.
Thymeways is about allowing for the space of Yoga, of communion, to take place. For each individual student, and for each group. This communion is not intrusive but if you ask to be helped to stretch yourself, to go beyond your own boundaries, you will be assisted in that opening, that stretching.
Thymeways is how Yoga should be taught. Patient with itself at the same time lengthening, grounded with the every day care of the world, yet transcending the mechanisms of habit. A dancing Shiva of a retreat, built on the patterns that connect life to life in a circle of meaning and love.
It is life lived right, and in its living, demanding of the very best we can be in the world.
Jai, Jai, Shiva-Shakti.