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Leave the “Crap” out of the Yoga Room August 29, 2011

Posted by admin in : People, Spiritual Growth, Yoga , trackback

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I subbed a yoga class for a friend over the weekend, which always brings up a little hesitation with the students since they are expecting to see their favorite teacher, but I also know that we always get what we need, regardless of who’s teaching so I did what I do, as all teachers do … I opened my heart and allowed my own unique style of teaching to emerge.

We all have our own language and way of being in the yoga room that differentiates us from every one else. It’s one of the things I love about yoga. Every class is different and every teacher has his or her own unique style. As I guided the yogis in to prayer crescent twist, I told them to breathe deeply in to the pose, as twists have a way of wringing the “crap” out of our bodies.

It’s not like I think about every word I say. The words are unforeseeable, as they come from within and materialize in the moment. I have to trust my body and inner wisdom to know what to say and when to say it and if someone takes offense, then perhaps that’s something for them to pore over in their own time.

Even though you have no idea how a class full of strangers is going to react to your style of teaching, you have to let go of the expectations and judgments knowing that you’re doing your best. As I guided the class out of svasana, the energy felt received and I felt comforted by the sleepy eyes and the peaceful calm that permeated the sea of mats. I received a lot of heartfelt appreciation and I was feeling good until a student came up to me and said, “You know … you’re  a really good teacher, but you need to leave the “crap” out of the yoga room.” What?!?!?!?!?! “What crap?” She went on to say that there was no place for negative words in the yoga room and that I really needed to be careful about the words I use.

Although I was completely taken off guard and dumbfounded, I heard myself say, “Thank you for being honest and for sharing with me. I appreciate you feeling safe enough to be truthful.” I wanted to mean it and I did mean it in the sense that I truly believe that human beings and life experiences are our teachers and if someone feels strongly enough to share their opinion, then we should at least listen to see if any of it resonates or stirs up any thoughts or feelings that could be used to learn something about ourselves.

That being said, I got more and more upset, as I drove home. I kept thinking I wanted to take back my words of gratitude and tell her how I really felt. Who was she and what gave her the right to judge me or tell me what I could or could not say? Yoga is about non-judgment and leaving the ego outside the classroom. I’ve spent my whole life drowning in insecurities and have done a lot of work to build my confidence and the yoga room is the one place I feel safe. Yoga is my passion and sense of security and she had no right to take that away from me.

Yes, I was a little defensive, but therein lies my challenge … to be a silent witness to my own judgements and self-justifying. Being conscious is allowing others to trigger sensitivities and insecurities so that we can grow and become better beings. Judging her for judging me was not the answer. It’s about transforming my fears in to love so that I can be a better person. Had she not triggered anything for me then we wouldn’t be having this conversation so I’m grateful to this person for being honest and giving me an opportunity to explore myself a little deeper, but it is also my opinion that nobody has the right to judge another. Teaching is an act of great service and we all have a way of doing it that makes us feel comfortable and safe and that should be held in the highest regard.

Comments»

1. Matt Powell - August 29, 2011

You’re totally right B! She had no right to do that.

I’m actually doing a little bit of yoga myself now since it helps my back after it was injured in a major car accident last year. My girlfriend introduced it to me earlier this year and I’ve been enjoying it since.

I hope you’re doing well.

Matt

2. Bob - August 29, 2011

Your greatness as a teacher and a friend is in the love contained to the core of your authentic self. Know with confidence that you are loved for the person you are. If you are going to be brave enough to teach the stranger, be ready for the people who will judge you before they know you. Few are born with thick enough skin. xoxo.

3. Amy T - August 30, 2011

I figure every “grow” needs a glow…..you are a wonderful teacher. Too often yoga teachers can be “strict and sterile”, life isnt that way. You bring a style of teaching that is real…it has laughter, tears, and yes sometimes crap! So thank you for being you and leading us on the mat:)