October 26, 2013

Dear Yoga Students: Your Teacher Loves You.

Dear Student,

Every time you come to class, you make my heart sing. Not because I’m counting dollars at the door, but because when you show up you make the class better.

I see your face as you bustle in,  juggling your mat, your water, your car keys. I wait for you to make eye contact, to see that the smile I have is just for you. My smile widens as I see you remember—in a few moments everything is going to be much much better.

You unroll your mat and sit with polite attention as I root around in my brain for the right words to bring meaning to this moment. Sometimes you close your eyes as I speak, maybe because you are trying to concentrate, or maybe because I am rambling on and on about something and you just want to breathe.

It’s okay either way—I get it.

When we ease into our opening poses, I can feel a palpable sense of relief wash over the room. The hard part is over. You’ve gotten here and now you are moving.

I admire how you move through your sun salutations. You try hard to match your breath to my cuing, I see that, even when it doesn’t work out. You are challenging yourself with jump throughs or forcing yourself not to do them because your knees hurt, and whichever it is, I’m glad you have the intelligence to do what you need.

When we get to a scary pose, I usually warn you it’s coming, even though that’s not the yogically correct thing to do. Warning indicates a projection of the future and so I have willfully pulled you out of the moment. Every time I do this, I second guess myself, but I want to give you a chance to prepare, grab your block or your strap, or just take an extra deep breath.

When I see you tackle this pose, and manage it or not manage it, I want to rush up to you and give you a hug. It’s so neat to see your strength and your humility in full flower.

I imagine that together, we are weaving the fabric of this class. Sometimes it feels like we are working on a translucent veil, the threads so ephemeral we constantly lose track of them and have to start over and over again from the beginning. Sometimes it feels like we are making a patchwork quilt, dense with the primary colored energy of your spirit pressing up against your fellow students to make a pattern like stained glass.

The best moment is savasana—your resting pose.

When I practice myself, savasana makes me feel like an ice cube melting on a hot stove. But I can’t decide which I like better, my own savasana or yours, because seeing you relax in a cocoon of warm air, clean wood and soft blankets without the buzzing of your mind is astonishing.

That you trusted me to guide you here, and that we got here, never ceases to amaze me.

At the end of class, when we bow to one another and say “namaste“, our tones are reverent. We have pirated this word and this practice from a culture very different than our own, but we are honoring it. Even if  you think you don’t understand the meaning of “namaste,” when you place your hands together and bow in sincere gratitude among people doing the same thing, you do.

Afterwards, when I turn up the lights a notch, it occurs to me that you look like an entirely different person than when you walked in. Your movements are fluid, you look taller, and you also look like you’ve just come back from a pretty excellent vacation.

Thank you for coming, my dear student. Because of you, I look that way too.


Your teacher


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Ed: Bryonie Wise



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