Teaching Yoga to an Elephant. ~ Gabrielle Harris

Via Gabrielle Harrison Aug 10, 2013
teach elephant

I see you come in and survey the room.

First Visit.

You are looking for the back row. I say hello and notice that you fill up your whole mat with your body. You are still wearing your sunglasses on your head and your socks. I invite you to take your socks off so you can feel everything. You haven’t felt anything for years and you don’t like your feet, but you comply anyway.

Throughout the class you are distracted. You are looking everywhere, at everyone. You check your toes a couple of times and even start picking at them. You drink copious amounts and sometimes just stop dead in the middle of a pose. You look everywhere but the mirror.

In savasana, you keep lifting your head like a turtle to see if it’s over. It seems like a waste of time as you are not burning any calories just lying there. You prefer not to spend too much time with yourself in this way. Better to keep busy. It is a relief when the teacher finally calls it a day.

On the way out you say, “What’s it like to teach yoga to an Elephant?”

Second visit.

You still have your sunglasses on your head. Is it in case the brightness of all these souls becomes too much? You prefer darkness and shadow. It seems safer there, with what you know. However, you have removed your socks. I invite you to take child’s pose or modifications and you think, “to hell with that.”

Only a loser would do that. No, you prefer to struggle through the whole class quite badly because you are trying to prove something. It takes a lot of courage for you to be here. I can smell that side of you burning—the determination in your ungainly moves.

On the way our you say, “That was great, thanks.”

Third visit.

You arrive a bit later than usual and your usual spot at the back is taken. I invite you to the spot in the middle and joke there are no back seats in this class. You don’t hear it because you are panicking. The only spot is between a yoga teacher and a show pony. You start to sweat and class hasn’t started. Then you hear voices from the past.

They say to you: What are you doing here? You shouldn’t have come. You will look foolish. You won’t amount to much.”

Except, they are not your voices, they are the voices of a parent, given to you when you were younger and you believed them.

Today we are doing handstand. I invite you to join in and try a 10th of the pose. But it’s too late. The voices have gotten louder and now I have pushed a new wound and you want out.

As you run out you say, “Go to hell.’

It’s a stampede.

Fourth visit.

You are not wearing your sunglasses. Maybe you feel some brightness, some lightness? I adjust you in a pose and your body clenches. I feel this, but I am big enough today to hold a space for both of us, to hold with my hands and keep this safe for you. Your body starts to soften. You have never been touched this way. It is a new experience and you start to crave it. You have discovered a hunger deep down within you for connection.

On the way out you say, “I feel much better, I needed that.”

Fifth Visit.

You are taking the lower options, when you need it. You are starting to be kind to yourself and respect your body. You are more in your body. You fidget less and you breathe more. We do fish pose. Your head is tilted back and your neck is wide open to the sky. I ask you to let out everything that you have never said, everything that is holding you back from being the best version of yourself.

You start crying, it’s torrential, like a flood. You don’t have your glasses to cover your eyes and everyone can hear you. You’ve stopped hiding.

On the way out you say, “I don’t know what came over me, thank you.”

I see you and all variations of you because what is in you, is in me. The anger, frustration, tears and self talk. You hide all of this under your mass of flesh and I deflect all of it off my hard angular body like a warrior. So there is no difference between you and me. You are my mirror to the world. What you see and experience and feel, I feel also.

I don’t see an elephant.

I see you.

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Assistant Ed: Steph Richard/Ed: Sara Crolick

About Gabrielle Harris

Gabrielle Harris is the original suburban yogini of New  Zealand. In between hot sweaty vinyasa,s she likes to go back to the suburbs and write about what she learned while cooking the dinner, running a business, and growing vegetables. Yoga is the little box of sanity that she likes to unwrap at frequent intervals to keep the wheels of domestic bliss turning smoothly. www.halfmoonyoga.org

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One Response to “Teaching Yoga to an Elephant. ~ Gabrielle Harris”

  1. Annabelle says:

    Beautiful.

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