An ode to substitute yoga teachers.
I read the email plea, several days in a row,
Desperately seeking a substitute power yoga teacher, as she heads to Cairo.
Subbing is a gift, yoga teachers often need.
It takes a special person to do the dirty deed.
I spend my days with seniors; we stretch in the chair.
As we stand for Warrior pose, we hold on tight without a care.
My classes with teen girls, we giggle and we breathe,
We master one plank push-up, then sigh with relief.
A Power Yoga class, however, is a whole other breed.
They come with a specific purpose and a great need.
Alignment always perfect and each pose must compete.
Why do I feel this class is only for the elite?
I look through the door and see the students’ determined faces,
Their apparel is stunning and their tats in perfect places.
As I enter the room, the silence hangs heavy,
Like deers in a headlight, trapped with no levy.
They look around and wonder what have they done.
Should they flee out the back door, break free and run?
Their questions hang in silent bubbles over their heads:
“Where is our beloved teacher, this will not do.
My time is precious and not to be wasted on you!”
Yogi girl in the front corner, is heading ferociously forward on her own.
She’s not wasting her lunch hour without getting toned.
I think to myself, I am getting to that pose, please wait for me!
As we bring our palms together at the heart’s center,
My hands begin to tremble and legs begin to shake.
I wrap my fingers and clench tightly together,
Not sure how much more I can take.
I cringe inside and continue to fret and worry more.
I am nothing like the gifted teacher I am subbing for.
I push myself to the limit, falling into my own trap
Not realizing within the room, there are many skill-level gaps.
I look to the back row and find a student in a struggle.
I realize now, she is new to yoga and having major trouble.
Wrapped in my own self-concern, oh, what have I done?
Trying so hard to impress, I may have lost another one!
I say to myself over and over: Let it go, let it go.
Free all judgment, competition and expectations.
How could I stoop so low?
This class is not about me—
I am here to bring peace, guidance and tranquility.
As we head to Savasana, all faces look relieved,
Although the student in the back still looks a little peeved.
Our heart rate slows down as we sink into the mat,
We breathe into our bellies and attempt to ease our mind from chat.
In closing my hands still hold a tremor,
As students head for the door.
Faces look grateful and content, but wait—there is more!
Several students come over and graciously question,
“Where and when else do you teach, you have not mentioned?
We enjoyed your class so much and you have relieved all of our tension!”
Taralyn Farrell is a certified yoga instructor, residing in Apex, North Carolina. She teaches at the UNC Wellness Center, IBM, Lifetime Fitness, APA and with the Town of Cary. Taralyn enjoys working with teens and athletes, men who cannot bend and gentle yoga for seniors. For more, check out her website.
Editor: Alexandra Grace/Lynn Hasselberger
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