June 28, 2013

I Certainly Don’t Want to Teach You Yoga.


I like people—I love people—but on certain days, I don’t want to see people, and today I don’t want to teach yoga.

I wouldn’t say I’m a complete introvert. But on certain days,

I want to be under something soft.

I want to observe and I want only to listen.

I love you, I do,

But on certain days

I don’t want to touch you,

I don’t want to talk to you,

I don’t even really want to see you and

I certainly don’t want to teach you yoga.

When I started teaching, this freedom to hide, to crawl under, slide behind, to take the back door, side door, in and out—anything but the front door—all changed.

On days I want to hide, I have to show up. I have to squeeze into something relatively small and tight. I have to step into a room with an entire wall of mirrors and turn the temperature up high so that what is small and tight becomes smaller and tighter.

I have to arrive not fashionably late but 30 minutes early—the first to arrive at the party I don’t even want to be at. I have to arrive early, not as an anonymous guest or a friend of a friend, but a generous host.

See, my job is to make sure everything is ready. The room is ready, the lights are ready, the temperature is ready, the props are ready and then I have to stand by the entrance way and find a way to smile and greet all those people I might not want to see today because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is about connecting.

And when I see the brunette with the high pony who walked out on me in the middle of savasana last Sunday, I will greet her just the same as the rest. I will greet her and I will stand tall and breathe when I do it because, if I’m going to lead a group of students through a series of backbends, I better learn to stand tall and offer you a hair elastic band even though you made me cry because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is about connecting even in the unpleasant moments. 

And when I walk into a room with an entire wall of mirrors I will look into my own eyes when I talk about drishti. I will look into my own eyes even when I ate chocolate cake for breakfast and skipped meditation to look up all my ex-boyfriends and all my ex-boyfriends girlfriends on Facebook because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is an honest practice.

And when you lift your foot higher than it needs to be in tree, I will find my vrksanana. I will keep my left toes on the earth and my hip-bones square to the mirror and I will connect to what is beneath me even though everything feels like water because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is finding the courage to lead, even when you want to follow.

And when I see your hips lifted in child’s pose, I will offer you an adjustment. I will place my palms on your low back on an inhale and I will press down on an exhale. I will sync my breath with yours, your breath with mine, and I will be taken out of my own silly cycle of too many thoughts for a minute because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is about something bigger than the physical body.

And after we finish Kapalabhati I will invite you to seal your practice. And when you seal your practice, I will seal mine by thanking the earth for every one of you. And I will send you love and I will send a little more to you, brunette with the high pony because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is about letting go.

And when I walk out the door and leave you in savasana, I will resist the urge to check my phone within the first 30 seconds. And when I’m cold and I wrap myself in a blue towel, I will resist the urge to put the towel over my my whole head. I will resist the urge to run after sharing something vulnerable. I will instead drape the towel over my shoulders and I will wear it more like a blue cape and I will invite you to sit and have tea with me because I am a yoga teacher and… yoga is a courageous practice.

And when you sit with me and tell me that class was special I will resist the urge to deflect the comment by complimenting you on your very exciting pink tank-top. I will meet your gaze and because my pores are wide open. I will allow the gratitude to enter every cell of my body because, as much as yoga is about giving… yoga is about learning to receive.

And after I hear you, I will stand there in a blue-towel cape, a little bit proud. Because after 60 minutes of teaching I will see each student and notice the difference in them from when they first came in.

I will see them and I will become less aware of what is small and tight and stuck to me and more of aware of what is big and round and bigger than me and I will be reminded that… this practice isn’t about me.

As as soon as I’m reminded of this, I want to disappear

A little less.



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Ed: B. Bemel

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