Monday night, three students. I was feeling sluggish. I hadn’t planned my flow. I wasn’t even sure I felt like leading a practice; but that’s what made this one of the best classes ever. Because as soon these three hit their mats it was clear they had shown up to do some yoga, and there’s nothing better in the world than willing students.
Take it from a high school English teacher (a.k.a. me): there’s absolutely nothing better in the world than willing students.
Every yoga practice, even if it includes the same people, is different from the next. And yet I’m beginning to discover a world of fun and playfulness with those students who return to my classes – something I’m not quite used to, but that I’m learning to enjoy. These students come to me because they want to, they trust in me to show them what I know, and they appreciate what I have to share with them. This is teaching as it should be, in every sense of the word.
I’m no master instructor (yet!), but I have confidence in my own yogic experience, and confidence in my ability to lead others successfully to, through, and around their practice. I took the journey through yoga teacher training not necessarily to learn about leading others through the practice, but to deepen my own understanding and capabilities. Ironically (and somewhat tritely?), I originally sought to focus inwardly to create joy and peace for myself, and yet now it feels as if my students are bringing me more joy than solo flowing ever has… By seeking to grow within myself, I’ve come to find peace and contentment in the external persons drawn to my own inner light. I have, in a sense, gathered a tribe by cultivating my vibe.
It’s as if I found the true, pure joy of teaching, just at the same time as I was losing faith in it. It’s one thing to teach young adults who feel they have no choice in coming to your class being forced to “learn” reading, writing, or whatever other boring subject is listed in the curriculum as mandatory to learn within a given semester of time; it’s quite another to teach individuals who come freely, eagerly, who view your time as valuable as theirs, and are grateful to spend it accepting the knowledge and energy you have to offer.
It’s perhaps somewhat unfair to compare teaching high school to teaching yoga at all; but personally, I find it hard not to contemplate the similarities and differences, and how I’ve been affected by both. I’m loving my tribe of yogi padawans. They embrace the challenge of scary new poses like sideways crow poses, extended side planks, and one-legged jump-back chaturangas (I may be making up some terms here, but the poses are real enough!); they endure the “logs” I (lovingly) inflict upon them, when guided through prolonged boat poses or butt-bouncing forearm planks (how else to experience their “edge”?); and (most amazingly), they never fail to leave a class without asking, “So when are you teaching next?”
I know a big part of this eagerness is not due to my personal teaching of yoga, but rather to the beauty and wonder of yoga itself (as it should be!). I wish I could spend my whole life spreading the beauty and wonder of yoga to others (I’m trying to start, at least), but I can’t deny how much selfishness is involved in that sharing. I’ve never felt happier, lovelier, or more completely at ease in my own skin, than when I’m leading a flow with others who love it as much as I do.
Here’s to my tribe, especially when it’s only three members strong, haphazardly collected on a hot Monday night, and gamely taking on the wobbly dangers of extended side-planks and roly-poly boat poses. You are beautiful, you make me feel beautiful, and I couldn’t love you more. Namaste.