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December 5, 2014

Ode to a Yoga Teacher.

RichardFreeman_large

“Gratitude is a virtue that, if not expressed, if ignored, if not contemplated with focus—turns to a sin.” 

You are beautiful. Gray streaks your hair where once it was raven.

You are young. Though you are old, now, your face is unlined—at least from the vantage point of my long Manduka, in the corner as always, so that I might feel a hint of fresh air from the door.

You opened my heart to fresh air where it had been closed for, what, 28 years? Standing over me and pulling my heart up to the heavens, I gasped and took in a full breath that I’ll never forget.

You are a mother of two, and your laugh is ridiculously charming.

You have a bald spot in the back, now, but are still fit and a father of a sweet four-year-old who loves to run in after class and look at everybody. You are funny, and you love chai, coffee, or chocolate.

Your face is lined, now—I first practiced with you before you had become a mother, and now you have two boys.

You are sweet, your eyes well-lined where so many smiles have been.

You are a star, and yet for years you cared about me as a human being. You were like a sister, an aunt, a love from another life—you were fun and helpful and actually helped me when I needed it: so rare. I’ll never be able to fully repay your kindness, until I pass it on to the next.

You are humorous, spacious, relaxed, patient, uninterested in worship and fascinated with yoga study.

You all have this in common: yoga is not a career. As one of you once said when I was burned out, ah, if we lost our jobs we’d wake up tomorrow and do the same thing, for free. This is our path.

Yoga is not a career. Yoga is a path. It is a practice made up of breath, of alignment, of study, of service. Without those three elements, yoga is not yoga.

Without you I would be old before my time, self-serious, closed-hearted and frowning at my life. With you I have a chance to be useful to an over-serious yet wonderful world in desperate need of care.

You are my yoga teachers, and I bow in gratitude to you.

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