Our Centre Community: Tanya Gita Roberts
Learning to Come out of Hiding
by Tanya Gita Roberts
The Salt Spring Centre of Yoga has felt like home for me right from the very first time I walked onto the grounds. The Centre is a constant for me, somewhere I can return to, a safe place where I can ground and connect with myself, friends, family, and community. I am so grateful to have this connection to the land and our loving, welcoming satsang.
The feeling of stability of place is something I didn’t experience when I was younger. I spent most of my childhood on the prairies, in Edmonton or in small communities outside of Edmonton. We moved around a lot when I was young – sometimes I went to two different schools in the same school year. Each move meant leaving old friends and having to make new ones, and while being the new kid isn’t always easy, my 2 younger brothers and I became pretty good at embracing change. My parents finally settled in a small town called Bruderheim, about an hour north-east of Edmonton. We lived in this small community for 8 years, the longest my family stayed in one place.
Our family may not have established deep roots in any one town or home, but my parents did create a deep rooted love of nature and the outdoors. One constant in our lives was our summer camping trips. We spent many blissful weeks in the summer running wild though the forest and over the beaches of prairie lakes. This is where I felt most at home, grounded and connected to my family, Mother Earth, myself and God. A special highlight for me and my brothers was getting to hang out in the boat with my dad when he went out fishing.
Another constant in our lives when I was young was the Roman Catholic Church. My maternal grandparents were devout Catholics and this was a tradition my mother tried to establish in our home. We rarely missed Mass on Sundays. Mom encouraged us to get involved in our parish community. I served as an altar girl, did readings and played flute and clarinet during Mass. My active participation in the church community taught me about devotion, faith, and selfless service. While I am no longer a practicing Catholic, these early lessons have served me well over the years. I can see how they influence my present practice and why I am so drawn to Babaji’s teachings.
When I moved out on my own, I continued to cultivate my connection with Mother Nature. I was (and still am) an avid hiker, cyclist, and mountain biker. These were my first forms of meditation. And it was mountain biking that brought me and my husband Brent together!
I discovered asana when I was in the last year of my undergraduate studies at the University of Alberta. I registered in a Hatha class because the description said yoga was good for relieving stress and anxiety – and I had a lot of stress and anxiety! I was hooked from the first class. When I started graduate work, yoga helped keep me sane.
Brent and I moved to Victoria from Edmonton in 2007. We were so excited! We were leaving the cold prairie winters behind and settling somewhere we could hike and bike year round. Another incentive for us was that we would be a few hours away from Quadra Island. Quadra is a special place for us – it’s where we chose to get married and it’s where we go to relax and reconnect with one another.
I started going taking classes at the Yoga Shala in Victoria. Suchi’s studio is where I learned about Babaji and SSCY. I attended my first pranayama and meditation class at the Yoga Shala. This class was where I met some of my dearest friends here in Victoria.
In 2010, I experienced a traumatic work place injury. Brent and my yoga practice were my supports during recovery (which still continues to today). The accident turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. It showed me the depth of Brent’s patience, kindness, and loving heart – I am so blessed to have such a compassionate life partner. The accident brought me to SSCY, Babaji’s teachings, and regular sadhana.
As part of my recovery, and after a lot of encouragement from my dear friend Christina King, I enrolled in the Yoga Teacher Training Program in July of 2011. YTT was a life altering experience for me. The clarity, peace, joy and love that I experienced over those 4 weeks profoundly changed me and the way I choose to live in the world. My YTT 200 experience left me wanting to learn more. In March 2013, I started the YTT 500 program at Mount Madonna, another amazing experience. Part of my desire to head down to Mount Madonna was to see Babaji, in person. As part of our YTT studies, we were able to sit in on the weekly philosophy class that Babaji taught, and we were able to sit and eat with him and the Mount Madonna community when Babaji was at the Centre. I was too nervous at first to go up to him and pranam, so I paid my respects from afar, placing my hands together at my heart, bowing my head, too afraid to lift my eyes. What was I afraid of? I was afraid of being seen for who I am, warts and all; and I had been “hiding” for a long time. Eventually, I worked up the courage to pranam at Babaji’s feet. When his eyes met mine, I felt like I was being seen truly for the first time, he saw deep into my soul and now I had to stop hiding. “Work honestly, meditate every day, meet people without fear, and play”. Meeting people without fear is still a work in progress for me, but I’m not hiding anymore.
Yoga, SSCY, Mount Madonna and Babaji’s teachings have brought so many blessings into my life. There are no words to express my deep gratitude. “Life is for learning. The world is our school. The school is always open and the serious students never drop out from learning”; “Teach to learn”; and “Love everyone including yourself. This is real sadhana” are teachings I reflect on every day. Jai Babaji! Jai Gurudev!