I stare at the photos on the wall – someone else’s gurus. But they’re very kindly looking and steady. Calming. So I share a few silent words of prayer with them: Please just let me just get out of the way.
You’re all lying in savasana – almost equal numbers of men and women. Peacefully lying there. I direct your attention to your breath and the rise and fall of your chest. Or, the movement of the air at your nostrils. I watch you all lying there, trusting the words I’m saying and I think, wow, how DID I manage to get into such a cool line of work?
I feel very humble and thankful and from this mindset, I begin the class.
It’s a gentle class, for beginners. That doesn’t mean it’s without challenge, though!
There are giggles – which is always a good thing – yoga should never be so serious that you can’t find a smile or a smirk. We get through the simpler movements and then things slow down because each movement of the next sequence needs to be broken down. Just like that feeling of trying to learn new choreography in a dance class, things are a little awkward for a while. But that’s okay…
So many beginners in the room all at once, which means I have to explain where you need to place your forward foot for a (back knee on the ground) lunge because otherwise I’m seeing all kinds of “interesting” shapes. Keep your elbows to your sides for cobra and use your spine to come up, not your arms so much! But we get there.
I work in my two of my current favourite nuggets of yoga knowledge:
- The focus on the breath is to train the mind so that when you’re in a more challenging posture, eventually you’ll remember to go back to your breathing without being reminded. And just when you think a pose is too hard or you can’t hold it, if you use your breath as a vehicle you might surprise yourself.
- When I ask you to scan your body for sensation, it doesn’t matter what you notice. Don’t get stuck on, or overly fascinated by any of those sensations. We’re developing a practice of self-awareness to sense and notice what’s going on both inside and outside of the body. It is the noticing that’s important: not what you’re noticing.
And suddenly we’re at the other end of the hour. No real meditation, because there’s a whole meditation class right afterwards and you’re welcome to join in that. But we do a little more focused breathing in savasana, and I give you a few more clues on how to get along with your monkey mind.
It’s over, and I realise with gratitude that it happened again: much of what I said felt more like something I channeled rather than a consciously worded class. Indeed, I ‘got out of the way’, so to speak.
Teaching yoga is not about my ego, or how wonderful a yogi I am. It’s this crazy and sublime sense of service, a true privilege. There’s an implied trust radiating off of you, and I feel extremely protective of those in my care. In my class. Learning from me!
Cycling home I feel very light of spirit, and I can’t stop smiling (which is kinda tricky coz I don’t really want to swallow any bugs). There’s a feeling of “rightness” that goes with this work, and whenever I teach a class I am learning to put aside all of those “who, me?” stories. Because each class shows me that I have knowledge to share; it doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to everyone but here I am in a position to pass it on to you.
So as I teach you, you are undoubtedly teaching me as well. I learn more about myself, and how I can interact with you. I learn more about yoga. I learn that in fact, I’m better off not hiding away from the world. That I should be out there, being a part of the dance of give and take. That it’s worth it. That it brings light into my life.
Thank you. Thanks for being my student and allowing me to learn these things. It’s such a damn honour, truly it is.