November 22, 2013

The Class. ~ Evan Upchurch

Inhale, Tadasana.

Exhale, Uttanasana.

12 vacant yoga mats laid on the ground all facing me. Krishna Das played in the background, and birds chirped their morning calls. I sat alone in an empty room waiting for a class of seventh graders. My meticulous notes sat at a close range.

Inhale, slight backbend.

Exhale, lunge. Left foot first!

“Yoga teachers are supposed to feel peaceful. They shouldn’t be scared of seventh graders,” I thought as the rambunctious students began filing in the room.

Some gave smiles, while others rolled their eyes at the mats. I closed my eyes before asking them to take a seat.

Inhale, plank.

Exhale, Chaturanga.

“Good morning, everyone. We’re going to start off in a meditation. I invite you to close your eyes,” I said, receiving some interested looks.

As the awkward boys and half-mature girls giggled and closed their eyes, mine stayed wide open. Girls held their stomachs and boys looked around nervously to make sure no one was watching them, however, those seventh graders and I held infinite common ground.

Inhale, upward facing dog.

Exhale, downward facing dog.

I looked out at the seventh graders and began to give step-by-step instructions remembering the advice my mother gave me:

“Teach like you are teaching yourself.”

Thoughts cleared from my mind, and my voice steadied. Echoing from my diaphragm, the words flowed like a well-practiced vinyasa routine.

Inhale, lunge. Bring up left foot!

Exhale, right leg forward to Uttanasana.

Their eyes followed every move I made. My presence floated across the room, while an unspoken bond tied me to them. Each moment, I reminded the students to breathe and block out the external distractions. “Challenge yourself, but remember you have limits,” I reminded them.

At once my muscles screamed as I vainly moved deeper into a pose. To myself, I whispered what I had just reminded the students. I let up and felt a gracious acknowledgment from my legs.

Inhale, arms overhead to Urdhva Hastasana.

Exhale, Tadasana.

40 minutes passed on my watch. I saw a mixed look of tiredness and calmness on the students’ faces, confused by what all their bodies had just accomplished. Before reaching for the music, I instructed the students to take Savasana, the final resting pose. I heard sighs and witnessed smiles.

All 12 students laid as corpses in eternal bliss. I grinned, encountering a sense of peace within myself.



The students slowly came back to the world of distractions and school life with refreshed faces.

Rolling up my yoga mat, a tap on the shoulder provoked me to turn around. There stood a seventh grade boy looking at me with bright eyes and said, “Evan, thank you for the yoga class. I truly enjoyed it.”

Those simple words sparked life within me. At that moment I knew my path rested in helping bring peace to others.

Yet, I was not the teacher. They had taught me.

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Assistant Editor: Steph Richard

{Photo: via Flickr}

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