Many decades ago, shortly after putting her young children to bed, Margaret Hahn was scrolling though the TV channels when she stumbled upon a yoga program on public television.
That late-night moment would change her life and now could alter the landscape for everyone in Bayfield.
Hahn began her study of classical yoga shortly after that in 1972 and now has been teaching yoga around the country and the world for 45 years. She has studied with historians, philosophers, archaeologists, yogis, dancers and physical therapists in the United States, India and Great Britain. Hahn has written a number of books and is working on finishing her latest, “Yoga, The Discipline.”
But yoga isn’t her only passion. When she and her husband Allen moved to the area about four years ago, they both fell for the local library system and Bayfield’s historic book building in particular.
She now is combining her two passions to host two classical yoga workshops – the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga, the Discipline – from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 15 or 16 at the Bayfield Carnegie Library. A portion of the $70 tuition will go to the library’s fund that started to repair the building’s pillars.
“I appreciate the library staff. They are professional, personal and supportive,” Hahn said. “I know there are libraries that have had to close their doors and I think it’s a tragedy for our culture that can hopefully be reversed or slowed to a stop. Just by lending support when they need it is the best thing we can do.”
The library needs about $50,000 to complete the project, which involves repairing the columns that support the front of the 1903 building where age and salt have eaten away at them and the underlying brownstone, Carnegie Library Director Blair Nelson said.
“An engineer assessed them in July and they are stable,” said Nelson.
The workshop will serve as an introduction to the Bhagavad Gita — the 700-verse Hindu scripture that served as Mahatma Ghandi’s “spiritual dictionary” — and to the practice that Hahn has developed over the last 45 years she has been teaching
“I’ve chosen three of the chapters from the Bhagavad Gita to highlight,” Hahn said.
Dalienne Majors, a longtime student of Hahn’s who is also a yoga teacher and dancer in Brooklyn, New York, is set to perform one of those chapters during the workshop.
Hahn and Majors have been down this road before. They hosted a workshop in Iowa in April and are scheduled to host another in Brooklyn in two months, shortly before they are scheduled to do two more in Israel.
“I believe one of the reasons I was asked to teach in Israel is because this is a country that has known war continuously since its beginning and the Bhagavad Gita takes place at the beginning of an actual war in India,” she said. The Bhagavad Gita – which is usually just called the Gita – was written between 250 BC and 250 AD and “is a sermon on yoga that many scholars consider a masterpiece in world literature,” she said.
“Yoga, The Discipline,” is a manuscript Hahn has had in the works for several years, and proceeds from it will be donated to the UN Refugee organization UNHCR (United States Association for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).
Through her research and travels, Hahn said she has discovered there “are undeniable ties between the ancient spiritual system from India and those of Tibet and the Native Americans. Goodness and silence are at their heart.”
In the classic tradition of yoga, Hahn said it’s not enough to know things — it’s also important to take action. By offering the Bayfield Carnegie Library workshops in partial support of the renovation of the library pillars, she is living up to that ideal.
Nelson, the library director, said that when Hahn came to the library with the idea of doing a yoga program it fit perfectly with a larger mission of cementing the library’s connection with patrons.
“It’s great to have a program like this at our library because it should be a gathering place for the community, and what better way to do it then have these kinds of programs available to the public?” said Nelson.
No experience is required for the workshops. Registration is limited because there is only room for 10 people per workshop.