‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’ – Nelson Mandela
Diane first began yoga in 1973. She excelled as an Iyengar yoga student and was often asked to demonstrate various of the difficult postures to other class members – in short she was good at working in the Iyengar style. In answer to my question regarding how she came to study with Vanda in 1975, Diane wrote:
‘I was invited to lunch at the villa of a signora in fiesole. It turned out to be the same signora who had called me to her during a tai chi demonstration a few months before…she had asked me to come see her. All I knew was her name…Vanda.
When I went for lunch, she took me into a small room with a grand piano and beautiful view, telling me to watch her. She was doing urdhva dhanurasana…one after another. She then told me to come study with her, to not tell anyone and to continue with my own yoga teacher. I had never seen yoga done with such grace and wanted to awaken that same intelligence within myself.’
To begin awakening that ‘same intelligence’ Diane began the unenviable task of unlearning all she had learned and doing that most difficult of things: becoming a beginner again. Diane practiced and practiced. Often she’d become exasperated and tearful when she didn’t ‘get it’ and thought that she might never get it. In fact, Diane once said to me that ‘It was fifteen years before I had a clue what she (Vanda) was talking about’. And then one day Diane realised that it was all in fact ‘so simple’.
Diane Long is a very unusual, often contradictory individual and does not care in the slightest what people think of her. She is eccentric; in a way she’s at least two, very different, people; upbeat and irreverent in life, deadly serious and demanding when she teaches. Diane is a teacher in the truest sense of the word and has the ability to instruct and guide everyone, though not everyone copes well with her forthright and often unorthodox style. She is as attentive with a beginner in their first lesson as she with her old timers.
Diane never tries to make people feel inferior or inadequate and does not encourage students to compare themselves with one another; she knows when people are doing their very best and does not expect any more of them. Diane gives each person their dignity and is hugely respectful of each body. She is a tender teacher though wholly demanding of full and undivided attention. She does not ask of you anything that she has not, or does not ask of herself. In short, Diane wants to gift to others the independence in their practice (and lives) that she so clearly enjoys.
It is an absolute privilege to be taught by the uniquely talented, loving and patient, Diane Long.