Have you ever gotten a crush on your yoga teacher?
I mean for crying out loud, they’re teaching spiritual principles, giving of their time and selves for very little money, making these killer music tracks, and giving hands-on assists like some kind of therapeutic angel.
What’s not to love, right?
The thing is, it happened once, and then again, and again—until I was forced to look deeper at it.
I’m a bit stove-up from a life of rowdiness. Practicing yoga is a challenge but it’s like a balm to my body and soul. I started going to a class where they play the harmonium and chant. The asana is somewhat above my level of ability but the teacher is so stellar, it’s okay.
The problem is that even though I’d promise myself I wasn’t going to, every time I was lying there in a pool of sweat in savasana, my heart pounding out of my chest, I’d get to bawling.
The physical aspect of all those “heart-opening” poses produces an emotional reaction to begin with—and with the artfully choreographed music and the dance-like transitions, you start to feel like you’re flowing into another reality. It all crescendos as you surpass any place you’ve ever been, and then you’re lying there with all these folks who have been doing the same thing with you, and it’s just freaking overwhelming.
You’re so grateful for the nurturing and community that all the pain and suffering bubble up, like when you drop an Alka-Seltzer tab in Coca-Cola. It’s a little embarrassing, but it’s not like you’re blubbering or anything. Thank God they turn the lights down for a while so you’ve got a little time to get it together. Everybody has a way of drying their face with a towel so that it dovetails nicely into wiping away the tears.
Well the other day, I was lying there and felt it bubbling up—loving that teacher—and then, I realized something:
I also loved that young guy up front with no shirt and bright blue trunks, who I’d seen stumble and try again. I loved the other old guy in the room, with the gray beard shaking like a leaf, trying to reach past his rather large belly, and the heavy lady to my right who was no less than inspiring in her adeptness. Young people, not so young—heck, I loved all these people.
That’s when it hit me.
Those teachers were just the most obvious and immediate target for all that emotion I’d been feeling. That’s the way it is laying there at the end, listening to your heart pounding, the ethereal music washing your soul because all your barriers have melted onto your sticky mat and this profound stuff rises to the surface.
There it was in my brain, like some Peter Max neon paisley hippie poster from the ’60s:
“Yoga is love.”
It’s getting out of your comfort zone. It’s challenging yourself without judgment. It’s going inward to a place you don’t normally go. Hell, it’s an ancient science about going inward.
I’ve been fighting something all my life, and I suspect most people are the same in one way or another. Maybe all we’re really fighting is our fear. Fear of not being good enough, or somebody taking something away, or hurting us or our loved ones somehow.
The thing is, when they open the door and the light shines into the studio, all of that is washed away for a spell, and I love that freaking teacher and each and every soul in that room who has just left their fear and doubt on their mat.
So, I’m going to keep going back, because I’ve figured out that these folks are my tribe. We all need a tribe, because that’s the only way we can get out of our heads and let go of all the garbage. It’s one of the best ways we can know we’re not alone.
So, now I know: yoga is love. And, as far as I can tell, we all want as much of that as we can find.
Author: Scott Hicks
Image: The Yoga People/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Nicole Cameron