We’ve all been there—we like our routines.
We walk into yoga class so happy to have made it; we battled screaming kids, or shortened lunch hours, canceled babysitters and gridlocked traffic to be there. We roll out our mats and heave a big sigh of relief, when who walks in the door?
A Substitute Teacher—bum bum buuuum (insert scary music now.)
Ugh, why today? We may think to ourselves. I’m not in the mood.
I don’t want any surprises, grumble grumble.
But if we can get past our own negativity, we are almost guaranteed to have a fantastic experience.
1) We can notice our resistance without judgement.
Notice it and maybe think about how it feels to be the teacher noticing it as well. It’s a bummer being a sub and feeling all this negativity directed toward you.
We can make a decision to rise above that resistance, for the sake of ourselves, the teacher and the class as a whole.
2) We can open ourselves to whatever this experience brings us.
We will have other classes with our regular, beloved teacher—this may be our only chance to learn from this one.
Remember those moments that an instructor said or did something that changed your practice entirely and forever?
Being in the presence of someone whose perspective you are unfamiliar with increases the possibility of that happening. There might be magic right around the corner.
3) We can take this chance to face our fears.
We know what our normal teacher wants and expects from us, and we do those expected things protected by a shield of comfortability. A new teacher is a mystery to us.
Why did she just move my arm back in triangle pose when I’m pretty sure my triangle is the shizzle? Why does she keep making us come to child’s pose when all I’m trying to do is get in a workout here?
Who knows? Does it even matter? This is the perfect chance to let our ego fall to the wayside and accept whatever direction this teacher is giving. These in themselves are some of the primary lessons of yoga; humility, acceptance, faith.
Again, if the teacher is actually a bad teacher, you need never see her again. An hour an a half of going with the flow never killed anyone and might make room for significant growth.
4) We can remember that yoga is not just about our physical bodies.
It’s not about how many calories we burn or how great our handstands are, it is about the practical wisdom and compassion we acquire to better live our lives.
When we can determine to embrace an unappealing or less than ideal (seeming) situation with grace and optimism, we are bringing light where there may have been darkness. In doing so, we are leading the way for others to do the same.
Positive thinking is contagious, after all!
I used to be the disgruntled kid at the back of the class muttering smart remarks under my breath and scratching up my desk with my compass—where did that get me? I find it’s much easier to move throughout the world lightly, with a smile on my face.
The next time you have a yoga sub, consider taking advantage of the opportunity to lead and to learn.
You’re stuck with each other for such a brief period—if you’re lucky, something wonderful may happen.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Evan-Lovely at Flickr