A Story From a Yoga Teacher
July 30, 2019 § Leave a comment
In my Saturday morning yoga class I always start with a round of introductions. To get everyone’s voice out, to hear names, and to find out about injuries or if anyone is brand new to yoga.
Yesterday the class was as usual a mix of regulars, experienced practitioners of all ages and skill levels, and a couple of beginners.
One lady in particular mentioned that it was her very first yoga class. Nadia.
As soon as she spoke I knew she was a fellow immigrant from the former Soviet Union. She looked to be about my mom’s age or maybe a little younger.
The class is 30+ people so I don’t get to give anyone a whole lot of individual attention. What I do is I feel into the energy of the room and watch for signals to see if anyone is tired or bored or perplexed or angry. Then I see what I can do to help (via verbal instruction and asana sequencing).
I don’t take it personally. That’s one lesson I learned in my 10+ years of teaching.
Actually the folks who have the scariest faces during yoga class, who look enraged, angry or just super irritated, more often than not they are the ones who come to me afterwards to express thanks for a transformative experience.
During class I noticed Nadia fidgeting during the mindfulness meditation at the beginning. There were a few poses that were obviously challenging for her.
I told the class that it’s important to rest when your body needs rest.
I encouraged the participants to listen to their bodies’ wisdom and also to ignore me if what I’m saying doesn’t feel good, doesn’t feel aligned, with their body’s needs and desires.
After class a few students came up to me to sign up for my email newsletter or ask a question.
I really love that part. When I get to intuit the message each student needs and transform myself into a transmitter for that missive. Usually it works and I can tell by the way their eyes soften and shoulders relax upon hearing the answer.
Nadia also came up to me after class.
“What do you think?” she asked me. “Should I keep doing this?”
“Well, how did it feel?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I couldn’t do most of it,” she replied.
“From what I saw you did great!” I told her. An Open Level vinyasa flow class and is not an easy feat for anyone (myself included).
“Maybe I should take a beginner class?”
“Sure. Why not check it out,” I encouraged her.
“How will I know?” she asked sincerely.
“By how you feel. If you feel comfortable, feel good in a class, then there’s your answer. “
She seemed to be considering that thoughtfully.
That’s when I switched to Russian, which maybe jolted her a little bit, but also helped to create another link between us.
“You did really great in class today. “
She denied it. “Oh no,” she said. “My knees barely work. I couldn’t do many of the poses at all.”
I didn’t argue or try to contradict what she’d said.
But I pointed out that she stuck with it. She stuck it out for the full 90 minute experience.
My point was that it’s an accomplishment in and of itself. Something to be proud of.
She pretty much brushed those comments aside. Not in a mean way or anything. It was like my words flew past her ears and not in.
Message not received.
I know it can take quite a few repetitions for the message to reach the heart of the seeker. For someone to actually hear the answer to their question. Accept the solution. It can take years. Lifetimes.
Nadia and I chatted for a bit longer.
She asked if I teach any other group classes. I told her that no, currently the Saturday morning class is my only regular group session. I also teach privates (online and in person). She said she’ll be back.
I hope she comes back.
Meeting her was such a stark reminder to me of where I was not too long ago, and where a lot of us are… this land of self-doubt and confusion.
Is it a Soviet immigrant thing? In part, yes.
Is it a woman thing? In part, yes.
Is it a … living an illusion of a consumerist society where we are programmed to ignore our connection to Nature to our God-Self and to each other… thing? Yeah. You already know what I think 😉
So… This is a message from my heart to Nadia’s:
Woman! It’s your first yoga class. You did great. You feel great! I know your mind is playing back to you the remembrances of wounding, of lack, of a basic not-good-enough-ness. But listen… if it helps to hear it from your yoga teacher, from an authority figure…
I believe in you!
I believe in your elevation.
Yes, you bet you’ll get better at yoga. Give it a year, my friend.
Give yourself time to get to know yourself. Give yourself that gift.
I honor you.
I have faith in you.
And I am here to support you. Happily.
Because it is not about the poses. It’s about ease. Ease of living in a human body.
And it’s about trust. Trust in the wisdom of your Heart.
And, of course, it’s about Love. Big L love. Discovering the joy, the bliss, the ecstasy of self-acceptance, self-appreciation and self-LOVE is your human birthright just as it is mine.
We owe it to ourselves to keep making those small, seemingly insignificant, steps toward self-care.
Because from a small seed a great tree grows 🌳