I was having a discussion with someone last night about teaching yoga and explaining that when I teach I feel the most authentically myself. I have a tendency to detach and not to open up in my day-to-day life, even with some of my closest friends but I can sit down in front of a yoga class and bare my soul.
Yoga…both teaching and practicing…softens me. This morning I was leading my students through their warm up and just seeing them move and breathe together caused me to get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. It’s so beautiful to see people on their mats and showing up exactly as they are. I encourage my yogis to do just that. To stop and realize where they are physically and emotionally every time they come to their mat and to practice from that place, honoring what their body and minds need that day and acknowledging that what we need is different every single practice.
If you’d told me in college that I would be a yoga teacher at the age of 30 I would never in one million years have believed it. And now that I am, I could never in a million years imagine giving it up. Teaching yoga is the single most rewarding and fulfilling thing in my life.
In the past few weeks I’ve taught a LOT of yoga and to many different audiences. It furthered my realization that I could care less whether I’m teaching to 2 people or 40 people, in heat or in the air conditioning, to new yogis or seasoned yogis…I just want to teach.
Last Thursday I taught a 25-minute yoga class for the staff of Communities in Schools. It was their kickoff meeting for the 2013 school year and I was asked to start their day with some yoga. 98% of my audience had never done yoga and half of them were in jeans or work clothes but I told them to show up as they were and to focus on breathing and moving. Yoga does not have to be complicated. All we did was work on lifting arms over the head, gentle forward folding, side bending, lunging and twisting and finished with a two minute meditation for caregivers.
They loved it and couldn’t believe how good they felt after stretching for such a short period of time. These are people who stay tightly wound. Their jobs require so much of them. They are in the schools every day working to reduce drop outs and keep at-risk youth in schools, working with pregnant teens to help them find a way to balance motherhood and staying in school and helping students who never thought college was an option to see it as a possibility for them. It’s amazing what they do.
I got connected to this group through a student who comes to Y2 and is the executive director for the organization. I have worked with them once in the past and can’t wait to continue the relationship. I would love to do more outreach like this.
This was a special morning at my 9:15 “yoga church.” The theme of class today was love and hip opening. Lately, I’ve experienced an aching heart and aching hips. These two things are related. When we are experiencing emotional stress it does manifest in our bodies. I invited my class to practice today from a place of love. To dedicate their practice to a person they love or to themselves for greater self love.
They loved me when I held them in frog for 6 minutes but didn’t move because I played them the story of Danny and Annie. If you’re newer to my blog, you MUST go back and read my post about frog pose and the story of Danny and Annie. It’s one of the sweetest love stories I have ever heard.
Today was also an anomaly because every single one of my students stayed for savasana. This happens almost never. It’s not unusual to lose almost half the class once we hit the floor. I was so happy to see them so engaged in their practice. The energy and love in the room this morning was special.
I’ll leave you with what I read my class this morning…
“The practice of love—actions and attitudes that create an atmosphere of kindness, acceptance, and unity in ourselves and in those around us—is not only the basis of spiritual life, it is also the basis of civilization. We can’t always feel gratitude, but we can remember to say thank you. We can’t always like other people, but we can try to pay attention when they talk to us and help them out when they’re in trouble. We may not feel good about ourselves all the time, but we can practice treating ourselves gently, slowing down and breathing when we want to rush, or talking back to our inner voices of self-criticism and judgment. When it comes to daily life, feeling love may actually be less important than acting loving.
This isn’t meant as an argument for pasted-on smiles, or for the common game of hiding anger and judgment behind a mask of false sweetness. The practice of loving is never about presenting a false front. Instead, it’s an active answer to one of life’s greatest questions: How can I, in spite of what I may be feeling at a particular moment, offer my best to myself and other people?
If you pose this query to yourself—or, better yet, ask yourself, How would I act if I were feeling love?—you will eventually discover the practice that helps melt your frozen heart, so the love that always hides behind our emotional barricades can show its face.” – source