Who’s Your Teacher? ~ Anne Samit

Via Anne Samit
on May 20, 2013
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I am finding myself in a new place at yoga.

I am relatively new to a nighttime practice, not so close to home. And for this reason, most all of the yogis, save one or two, were strangers when I first arrived.

But the energy in the room seems to tie us together and, at the end of each practice, I often feel a sort of kinship with my classmates, even the ones I still don’t know.

In this class, half the room faces the other half—and now I’ve made some buddies on the other side.

In particular, my dristi, or focal point, seems to land on a young lady three rows ahead, in the first row that faces mine.

She is upside down in handstand for every vinyasa, and I’m hoping to advance my practice simply by osmosis.

One day, on my way out, I couldn’t help but exclaim to this young yogi about her practice. A few days later, on my way in, she returned the compliment.

Here I was admiring her, but there she was admiring me!

We started to chat and moved on to more important topics, like her handstands. I want those vinyasa handstands, away from the wall, and I asked her how it is that she’s not afraid to go upside down, right in the middle of the room.

I’ll help you, she offered. I’ll teach you how to fall.

She spotted me, then, in handstand, mid room with no wall, and encouraged me to turn my hips and step out to stand up. It was almost like rounding-off in gymnastics or like the second half of a cartwheel.

We did this a few times, and she sent me off to practice at home. Not once but twice since then, she has offered to repeat the spot.

Here was someone offering help without my asking, offering only kindness and encouragement and even praise.

Little did she know how much this heartened me.

Outside of yoga, I find myself mostly in mentoring roles. I am a helper, and often an advisor, as a colleague, as a mom, as a sibling, as a friend.

But yoga puts me on the other side, placing me in an unfamiliar role. And it feels kind of strange over there.

At yoga, I am the student. I look to others, students and teachers alike, for inspiration and how-to’s.

I’m surprised at how much there is to learn from others—and often, from those who are younger in the studio, though, it seems that age is of no matter.

Most important is the fact that this young yogi is teaching me about fearlessness and courage. She is teaching me how to be brave enough to fall, even when I’m scared—a life lesson coming from someone almost half my age!

It’s this unexpected camaraderie that I’m most surprised to find at yoga.

More than once, I’ve looked around and wondered, What if we all never met or—for that matter—what if I never met yoga?

What, then, if I saw these yogis passing by on the street, walking around, all grown up and dressed up and doing the day?

Would it even occur to me that at night we could all be having fun in a room doing headstands and handstands, upside down like children of all ages?

Apparently, how old we are doesn’t appear to matter; yoga seems to be an equalizer.

This might not be evident when walking by each other on the street, but once we are on the mat, it’s really so easy to see.

The other day, it was time to practice our handstands.

I planned to chicken out and face the wall at the back of my mat for support—I was still afraid to invert at the front of my mat, mid room.

Before I turned around, my young mentor on the other side caught my eye and gave me a nod.

I followed her silent instruction and changed my plan. From her faith, I gathered my courage and gave it a go facing front.

I planted my hands below my shoulders and pulled in my core. I lifted one leg and then slowly lifted the other.

And to my surprise, I hung there, upside down, mid room!

For the first time, I was not afraid to fall.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

Source: backtothefiveanddime.tumblr.com via Sarah on Pinterest


About Anne Samit

With the sole intention of exercising for the first time in her life, Anne Samit's simple quest to exercise ignited a therapeutic journey of self-discovery. She blogs on the impact of her practice, and her new book, Unfold Your Mat, Unfold Yourself: Essays on Yoga’s Healing Truths and So Much More, compiles these essays in an effort to share with readers both the awakening and the solace that she has found on the mat. A native Washingtonian with a passion for writing, an interest in painting and a background in public relations, she is presently an executive assistant at a health industry consulting company. Her two children live in New York City where they practice yoga, too. Connect with Anne on her blog and on Facebook.


6 Responses to “Who’s Your Teacher? ~ Anne Samit”

  1. amphibi1yogini says:

    Please tell me that it's not the teacher who is pushing the class-as-a-whole too hard, and that this has made you overambitious. I am a perennial advanced beginner. I feel comfortable looking at other students wherein a feeling of mudita and aparigraha are encouraged, both at the same time … and it's not me, it's them …

    So please tell me this …

  2. Anne says:

    Thank you for your comment, amphibi. Be assured that our teacher is not the one pushing the class as a whole too hard. In ffact, in one of the sequences in which a handstand is supposed to ultimately follow, she reminds us that "it might take some of you a day, it might take some of you a month, it might take some of you 10 years!". The challenge provided by this teacher is cushioned with encouragement and lots of space.

    It's vey rare that I look around during practice, but because the class is set up with two halves facing the middle, it's almost impossible not to see the one directly in my line of sight. Any ambitions are borne inside of me. Feelings of mudita and aparigraha are encouraged (although not in those terms; I admit I had to look them up!) and after class some yogis even stick around to help each other, giving advice and tips.

    Lastly, our instructor always encourages us to have integrity in our practice, to be honest with ourselves and to listen to our bodies, always offering up varying levels of expressions.

    I just wanna get that handstand! 🙂

  3. @yogatwit says:

    Thanks that's great! I've been at yoga for 35 years, and still the independent hand stand eludes me.
    You have given me inspiration. 🙂


  4. Anne says:

    Hello, Lek.

    Thank you for your comment, Lek.

    35 years! That's amazing. Please know you've already paid back the inspiration because that's my plan, too!

    It's funny, but when I know the wall is there, I can go up into handstand without any support and hold it just fine. But, in those few times when I've been able to hold a freestanding handstand, such certainty and confidence elude me. Knowing I can fall out of it as this young yogi taught me really helps. Interesting how the balance can be so much in the mind and not just the body.

  5. amphibi1yogini says:

    Boy, I'm relieved to hear that … I make sure that my home practices are physically tougher than a class I go to. My primarily home practices are lengthy and comprehensive–I learned from the Masters–I'll give them THAT; but they'd been out to torture whomever they deemed fair game, in class. Not even an Ashtanga style class.

    Make sure it is coming out of you and not the people around you. Make sure you'd want that handstand alone at home, with no one watching. Make sure you'd want that handstand any time of day you had enough energy. Make sure you'd want it without its possibly being a photo opportunity. Then and only then (in my mind) is it ego-free. No pun phraseology intended–be prepared to BE that tree that falls in the forest with no one hearing, looking, listening or watching.

    I clap for you with the sound of one hand clapping!

  6. Anne says:

    Amphibi, I just love this reply and your heartfelt words . And, I can truly say that I want that handstand even if no one's there to see – as "witnessed" by my attempts at home alone. 🙂 Thank you again. — Anne