As yoga teachers, we’re incredibly lucky to connect personally with so many people through our classes. We get to hear stories and be witnesses of how yoga literally and emotionally moves others, and how the practice can shift their lives. Recently, I had a student come up to me at the end of class, thanking me for a great practice. She was also on the brink of tears. She felt embarrassed to be crying, exclaiming she wasn’t even sure why she was so emotional. So, I gave her a long hug, reassuring her that it was normal and good and human to feel this way after practicing. And the tears rushed forward. This wasn't the first time I've seen people have an emotional moment during or after class, or had a student come up to me and say that something I mentioned had resonated with them. And I don't mention this to toot my own yoga teacher horn. I bring attention to it because what I share isn't something intensely wise or deep -- it's normal human stories from my normal human life. And even these simple shares can have a huge affect on how people approach their practices, but more importantly, how they hold space for themselves. Being a teacher isn't just leading a class through a couple of sequences -- it's an opportunity to be vulnerable in hopes you'll inspire someone else to do the same. Yoga encourages us to shed old skins. To show our wounds and scars, no matter how fresh, in hopes that they inspire others to look at theirs with more compassion. In hopes that they'll look at their "failures" and recognize the tender humanity in them.
One of my other students just returned from India, fresh off of his teacher training. He brought me back some sweet little gifts, and told me about his future plans, excited to stretch his wings as a new teacher and to spread the message and power of yoga because of how much it has served him. I remember him chatting with me one day, right after he had made the decision to go to India for his training, and the sparkle in his eyes and how he told me how excited he was to embark on this adventure. It took me back to my own decision to become a teacher, and like a sped-up movie, my subsequent journey to where I am today. I was so happy for him. Not just because he was following such a BIG dream, but because of the anticipatory excitement I had for how this process would change his entire life... like it had mine.
This practice is not just breathing and stretching. And we are so much more than yoga students or teachers. We are conduits of a thousands-of-years-old ritual that has the power to CHANGE EVERYTHING. From peeling away emotional layers so we can finally release some tears, to traveling across the globe because we feel so pulled to spread this message, yoga is an undeniable FORCE — a force that drives us towards something much greater and much bigger than ourselves. It has the power to help us reconnect with our bodies, understand our minds, work past our emotional blockages, and find a deeper connection to our Higher Selves. Yoga is like boarding an old ship towards paradise. The journey may be slow, rocky, and even scary at times. We might get frustrated at the process, wishing we had chosen a speedier vessel or curse how the journey tests our patience. But once we have arrived -- once we've seen where this ship has taken us -- we know that every single wave that knocked us about was one hundred percent worth it.
Bowing deeply everyday to this practice.