I recently had the chance to work with a very new to yoga student up here in Rhode Island. We had a one on one session, taking it very slow. For many of us, poses like downward facing dog, plank, and child’s pose are incredibly challenging, so we focused on safe alignment and breathing throughout the hour together.
Aside from the poses [asana], we talked about how yoga views us as multi-layered human beings - that yoga is beyond the physical experience and is really a science to be lived in many different aspects of our lives. That’s just one of the reasons I enjoy working privately - you get to dig into which postures will support your body right now (you don’t need much) and which components of the philosophy could support your heart.
We walked out of the studio together, chatting away, when she stopped, looked at me and said, “How did you get into yoga in the first place?” And, then she said, “I’m just so surprised…it seems like yoga teachers are so…smart.”
Wow. I could take that in a multitude of ways, right? But, I get it. We teach “yoga.” We do yoga because we’re already flexible, we already have perfect lives that we sail through with ease. We drink our green smoothies, diffuse our oils, dry brush before showering, and everything’s fine. I’m totally being sarcastic here. We come across as going with the flow, maybe not being super ambitious, because after all it’s “yoga.”
But, here’s the thing. She’s right. Yoga teachers AND yoga students are the smartest people I’ve ever met. Why? Because they are learning the process of becoming AWAKE. It can seem like we’re chill, flippant, on another planet, but many yoga teachers feel so strongly about teaching because they’ve walked a tremendously difficult path before.
They know firsthand the healing that takes place when you start to roll out a yoga mat and get quiet, and so we share the practice. We’ve left big careers to open businesses, moved across country, go back to school, essentially deciding to believe in ourselves. Yoga knows no bounds - we are women, men, doctors, lawyers, teachers, stay at home parents, carpenters, musicians, flexible, not flexible at all, wobbly, graceful. We let yoga infiltrate our lives, because it WORKS. But, there’s struggle. There’s been pain, there might still be, and there will be again. There’s been fear. It’s just…we’re learning different ways of viewing the world and how to interact with it. We’re becoming conscious.
This weekend, Yoga Dear celebrated her third birthday. WOW. We’ve grown in ways I never imagined, teaching over 1500 students in our time with a brick + mortar space in little Lewisburg, Pa., and continuing to have newsletter readers from Rhode Island to Hawaii to New York to California to Florida.
Sharing these letters, teaching, studying yoga, and learning from you has been one of the greatest gifts I could have never imagined. YOU are among the smartest people I’ve ever met, because you’re choosing to challenge yourself. To get uncomfortable, which starts with those beginner yoga poses, but really spills over into allowing discomfort in your life. You’re realizing your infinite potential, you’re listening to your inner voice over your inner critic (or at least you’re aware of it), you’re making decisions out of love rather than fear.
I toast you, each of you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing your words and practice with me. Thank you for studying with me. Please thank yourself for how far you’ve come, for how much you’ve learned. And, remember, we as yoga students and teachers still have much work to do - on ourselves and in our communities. Happy Birthday to all who’ve called Yoga Dear home as a studio, and as a place to read a weekly letter with a hot cup of tea. I bow to you. Namaste.