April 8, 2014

My Yoga Teacher, the Hornet. ~ Barry John Johnson

green hornet

It was a nice day.

The yoga room where I take classes has nice French doors, which were open when class started.

Not too far into class, a loud, menacing buzz immediately brought everybody from the safety of a Child’s Pose into a haphazard and tentative Hero Poses.

There was a flying insect of some kind in the yoga class and based upon its size and sound, it represented a possible threat.

I think everybody present went into some type of threat assessment mode. This was not a big, sweet, clumsy June Bug.

It was not your standard Honey Bee.

This was large and black with a metallic sheen. A mechanical hum reverberated through the room. This was a hornet of some kind, possibly a genetic mutation.

My threat assessment was complete: Code Red!

The class stopped, frozen with all eyes on the hovering beast up by the ceiling.

The teacher was up and holding a towel like a weapon. Her posture was “MMA”, ready to sacrifice herself for the good of the class.The Hornet-Beast took a sudden buzzing dive towards a random yogini who, understandably, yelped.The Beast returned near the ceiling,  batting itself against a closed window away from the open door. It wanted out, but seemed trapped.

The teacher approached the Beast, weapon in hand. She looked at the hornet. She looked at the class, making eye contact with each of us. A silent survey occurred. There was an unspoken consensus to move on with class and take no action against the hornet as long as it stayed where it was.

The class moved on.

There was an occasional buzzing sound and tapping of the glass coming from the area where the hornet had settled in.

I realized how my mind had raced under threat. My flight or fight system had kicked in, distorting my thoughts and making the threat seem worse than it really was.

I had become self-conscious at one point because I was the only dude in class. Was I expected to rise up and take action? Silly.

Seeing the hornet batting against the glass actually aroused my compassion for the trapped little being who only wanted out. My heart stopped racing and I felt connected with the little guy. I felt connected with all in the class. I felt safe. There was no threat.

I think that this is what yoga is about. The yoga room can be a safe escape from all the threats and dangers of the outside world. We often leave the cocoon of the yoga room only to be dislodged by the first metaphorical hornet that comes our way.

When we can stay in safe place in our heads despite threats, we function better. Our minds don’t distort. We don’t become self-conscious. For me this is what teachers mean when they talk about practicing yoga off the mat.

On that day, it was on the mat, with a gracious hornet coming in, to assist teaching yoga class.


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Apprentice Editor: Lizzie Kramer / Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: Venetia Featherstone-Witty/Pixoto

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