Farewell to my first yoga teacher

My first yoga teacher, Lyn Dorfling, died in South Africa on Sunday.

Lyn was a yoga pioneer in South Africa and by the time I met her in 1964 she had already studied with BKS Iyengar in India and, I think, had been initiated by him. She visited us in the Hwange Game Reserve where Roland (her nephew) was working as a ranger. Although she was his aunt, she was only five or six years older than him. Roland and I had only been married for a few weeks and I had not met many of his relatives. Lyn was married to Desmond at that time but they later divorced and she remarried. We lost touch and I believe she was widowed or perhaps divorced again. It seems she was teaching yoga right up to the end as there are classes listed for her in the studio where she worked near Johannesburg. Searching through the Internet I came across this article on pranayama written by Lyn.

Living in the wilds of Africa as we did, yoga wasn’t really on the radar so when Lyn and Des plus their daughter and her boyfriend lobbed up to Main Camp – in an ancient Renault towing a fair-sized caravan – I was intrigued to meet her. Until Lyn took me through the first steps I don’t recollect ever having heard about yoga.

Lyn asked me if I’d like to try something interesting so of course I said “Yes” and she said it was called “Yoga”. We worked on the Sun Salutation Suraya Namaskar and then she took me through Yoga Nidra. That is when I got hooked on yoga! The family stayed for a few days and Roland showed them around the Game Reserve so they got to see elephants, lions, buffalo, giraffe – most of the bigger animals. When they left to return to South Africa, Lyn gave me a roneoed booklet with Suraya Namaskar and some other asanas. The booklet was illustrated by hand and had a green cover and it was my only text until it eventually fell to pieces from being used all the time! After Lyn and Des left Main Camp I did not have another lesson until we migrated to Australia 20 years later.

From Lyn’s booklet, I moved on to Richard Hittleman and from there I slowly developed a love for the philosophy and literature of yoga as well as the asana practice. Currently, I’m studying with Georg Feuerstein and finding that fulfilling indeed.

So farewell Lyn, I am grateful that you introduced me to Yoga; it has been a constant in my life since that freezing cold day in July 1964 when I lay on the cement floor and you took me through my first Yoga Nidra.

Farewell to my first yoga teacher

Leonard Cohen, THE DARKNESS, New song, Nashville TPAC, Nov 5, 2009

The Darkness – Leonard Cohen
The first time I heard this amazing song was at the concert on 24th November 2010 and it is my new favourite!
The whole concert was magical. Leonard Cohen in top form but he must have been tired – it was the last concert of the tour and goodness knows how many timezones he’s crossed in the last few months. Sharon Robinson was absent from the line up and that was a pity. The Webb Sisters (Charley & Hattie) were there with their wonderful harmonies (and the odd synchronised cart-wheel). Roscoe Beck (musical director, electric bass, stand-up bass), Rafael Gayol (drums & percussion) Neil Larsen (keyboard) Dino Soldo (master of the wind) Javier Mas (binduria, laud, archilaud & 12 string guitar – what a legend) Bob Metzger (lead guitar etc.) The support act, Clare Bowditch, was also excellent. She told a couple of funny stories about the tour and also how much she had benefited being in the show with L. C. I remember last year that Paul Kelly said something similar. Clare sang her “I thought you were god” and dedicated it to L.C.

Something that always impresses me is the respect Leonard Cohen shows for his band and vice versa. He has a huge generosity of spirit and never ever hogs the limelight. Occasionally he was alone on the stage; he is so tiny but he filled the space.

The four of us who went to the concert were mesmerised and the 3+ hours went by so quickly. One of my friends was not that familiar with L.C. but by the end of the concert she was a big fan! I wonder if he will tour down here in Australia again. He is 76 now so it is doubtful but if he does I’ll be there! At the beginning of the concert he said, “Friends, I don’t know when we’ll pass this way again, but tonight we’re going to give you everything we’ve got.”
The review (by Ray Purvis) of the concert in The West Australian is worth reading. He mentions how L.C. “inhabits the songs”.

Leonard Cohen, THE DARKNESS, New song, Nashville TPAC, Nov 5, 2009