February 9, 2013

Why the Worst Yoga Class Might also Be the Best. ~ Bess Prescott

Photo: Jade Beall

We’ve all been there. And then, a light in the darkest of tunnels.

A few mornings ago I attended the worst and the best yoga class of my life. I walked in, sat down and was doing some pre-stretches when I was unexpectedly reduced to tears by the heartbreaking beauty of the live violin accompaniment to our warm up (Deepak Ramapriyan, I salute you).

And I’m not one of those people who sobs through pigeon every class (I love those people. My sister is one of them). And then: the teacher, sitting immoveable behind a laptop, turned the volume of “yoga music” up so high as to deafen the class and drown out the sublime violin.

Photo: Porschelinn on Flickr

Cue: more tears. Struggle. Anger. Wanting to leave. Hating class. Hating being yelled like I was in boot camp. Hating the pretense behind every word. Hating the teacher.

We’ve all been there. And then, a light in the darkest of tunnels: beneath the cacophony, I heard the strains of the violin tentatively whispering their beauty. Clarity amidst confusion. Joy cutting through anger. Peace beneath aggression. The sublime in the ridiculous. And I laughed. At myself, at the class, at the world. And I practiced the rest of the class in a bliss-bubble of acceptance.

Everything else—the noise, the teacher, my screaming ego,slipped into irrelevance. It was only my breath and the violin left, dancing in space.

I had learned the most important lesson I have ever learned from a yoga class: in yoga, as in life, the divine is always there. It might be soft, it might be hidden, it might be so elusive that you think it has abandoned ship altogether. But, even when you think all is lost, that the world is your enemy, that all is dark and evil and hopeless, it remains.

Because that which transcends—the divine, beauty, joy, love, God, whatever name you give it—does not care for our shallow judgments. It is in everything. Always. So next time you’re lost in despair or depression or anger or frustration, please stop. That achingly beautiful melody will be there, perhaps buried deep beneath all the pain and chaos of our world, but it will be there. All you have to do is listen.


Bess Prescott is a reformed corporate insolvency lawyer and itinerant yoga teacher on a twelve month adventure to see the world (usually upside down from a headstand), get uncomfortable, meet cool people, walk edges with them, go skinny dipping, be afraid (and do it anyway) and learn a bit more about this yoga thing. You can email her at [email protected]


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Assistant Ed: Sarah Winner
Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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