Dear Yoga Teachers,
I love you—all of you. Really, I don’t know what I would do if there weren’t people who had dedicated their lives to the teaching of sweaty, awkward people at all hours of the day.
You spend your working lives mopping up floors, washing smelly mats and watching us do poses that expose our deepest vulnerabilities—both our elations and our deepest sadness. This is the power and beauty of yoga. Which is why I make this request:
Please don’t talk about your pants or your cute new top. Please don’t tell us it was on sale or that it was a gift from your grandmother. Please don’t tell us that you have a yeast infection or are struggling with migraines. Or that you’re super into the newest kombucha flavor. Or that your boyfriend broke up with you. Or that you are hung over. Or are “just not feelin’ it today.”
When you do this, it steals from us students because it takes away our chance for solitude. Sure, there are a lot of us in the room, but when we practice, we all get to be alone. When we come to yoga we get to spend 60 or 90 or 100 minutes in the wild abandon of not having to respond to anyone but ourselves.
It’s true that when you make inside jokes or tell stories about your kids or even kind of make fun of someone’s shirt in class, some of us will smile at you. But that isn’t necessarily because you’re funny or because we care. We smile because we are kind people and kind people smile—at least a little bit—when others are misbehaving.
Other people will smile because they’re grateful. After all, you’re giving them a way to not think about themselves—and the truth is, you’re stealing the most from them. When we are faced with quiet and solitude most of us will jump at any distraction possible to save us from the information we receive about what our minds actually do all the time. We can find one hundred distractions without help from the teacher himself.
Yoga is the practice to yoking the mind and body: my mind to my body. I am here for communion with myself, not communion with you. In the crazy chaos of life, many of us come to the quiet of a yoga room to find ourselves again. If instead we find you, then we might be sweaty and more flexible, but we do not leave with the more important thing we came to find.
Yoga is my anxiety and depression medication, my panic button, my safe room, my therapist and my church. It is my recreation, my leisure sport, my age-appropriate weight-bearing exercise and my hardcore fitness. For others it is an AA meeting or part of a plan to manage weight loss, an eating disorder, OCD, manic depression or cancer.
We all come with stories, but we don’t always tell you these things because they aren’t your business. We might tell you about our knee injury or back injury or the weird clicking noise our wrist makes when it rains on Sundays, but we don’t tell you about ourselves because that’s what we’re here to study.
So perhaps I am asking too much, but I ask it anyway: I want you to be yourself in the yoga room, just not all of yourself. Whether you feel it yet or not, being a yoga teacher makes you an incredibly powerful person. I’m asking you to be that powerful person who, at least for those 60 or 90 or 100 minutes, can leave the rest of the world behind.
I’m asking you to be the best possible version of yourself for just a little while, so that the rest of us can try our hardest to do the same.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Amy Ratto Parks
Editor: Emily Bartran