I sat with Lucy in the hospital that last week of her life, her helpless doctor husband by my side. She died on Valentine’s Day 1975 at the age of 31. Ironically, her death marked the birth of my on-and-off-again love affair with my Inner Self. It’s a Self I didn’t know I had until all hell broke loose in my body and mind. Within days of her sickening funeral, depression set in.

The next six months were marked by car-stopping heart attack symptoms and horrible nightmares, a reprise of Lucy’s demise. Most terrifying, though, were the monstrous hallucinations, after I popped a small Valium. My dear doctor had no better idea.

Yoga here we come!

I got psychiatrists’ names but never followed up. I began to sense another way. No question I needed help unlocking the terror that wouldn’t let me go. Somehow I knew the key lay deep within me. And I knew that talking about it with a doctor wouldn’t be enough. I needed to feel it!

It slowly dawned on me that yoga, which I’d taken up in Philadelphia, but given up since moving out to the farm, might be the way. I tracked down my old Philadelphia yoga teacher. Since I’d seen him last, Amrit Desai had launched Kripalu Yoga and become a guru.

One crisp autumn day seven months after Lucy died, Trond dropped off a raw, frightened Suzanne at Amrit’s new ashram in Sumneytown, Pennsylvania. That first week of starting to explore the pain inside was torture. But after a year of using yoga to face down a shitload of long-buried doubts and fears, a woman named Bakula was born.

In October 1976, I was initiated as a disciple by the man I’d begun to call Gurudev. For nearly twenty years, I was an ardent Kripalu Yoga student and teacher. For ten of those years, I served as a Network leader for what became the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. I never lived at the ashram for more than a few weeks at a stretch. But Kripalu was my long-time spiritual home.

As you’ll read in my book, it became my scary sacred training ground. It’s where I began growing myself into a woman who dares be herself. Slowly, surely, often painfully, I got what I’d come for and more. In1994, I kissed Kripalu a bitter-sweet goodbye, mere months before the guru was exposed and deposed for sexually abusing disciples and Kripalu as we knew it blew up.

Life after Yoga

For me, the fallout from his fall included rich leadership lessons, which I began to explore, as you’ll discover in my book. Moving on from Kripalu’s cocoon I felt alone and uncertain at first.

But bumpy as it could be, I noticed that when ego got out of the way, one thing—say, teaching yoga—often led me organically, even gracefully, to the exact right next thing. And that next thing for me was the Rubenfeld Synergy Method (RSM).

Just as I tired of teaching yoga and was wondering how to get my students to make emotional breakthroughs like mine, I met Ilana Rubenfeld, creator of RSM. Watching her help people transform huge long-held fears back to the love that is our Source made my hair stand on end. I signed up at once to get certified in her pioneering body-mind work. Read more…