I’ll be the first to admit that I fear change, especially when I know it will be uncomfortable or inconvenient, or worse, painful. But change is supposed to be all those things, otherwise, it would just be another version of the present.
I’ve been teaching Bikram for almost a year now. I relished having a regular class with regular students who are strong and dedicated. I was able to fight off new-teacher nerves because those students can pretty much can take care of themselves in the hot room. Additionally, opportunities weren’t always available at other studios, so I hid behind that reason to stay where I was. Teaching a good group of students every Wednesday, solid and concrete.
Then one day, I finally decided I was ready. I was done hiding in the shadows of comfortability and convenience. I sought out other studios far away from me, one at a time, signing up for whatever came my way. My students became even more varied the further away I went. Broken bodies, broken hearts, yet the kindest of souls. Mostly older, and some who don’t speak English at all. Their profiles resembling my immigrant upbringing and my parents’ generation more than anything – a generation that put hard work and families before their own health and happiness.
I was looking to grow as a teacher, for anything that can be thrown at me so I could be better, stronger on the podium. Maybe play with my voice, as has been a feedback for me to work on. To say teaching this group as tough would be an understatement, at times driving me to the edge of frustration. I thought, it sure is a lot of work to improve!
But when a student shared with me that she was grieving a loss and didn’t know if she could be in that hot room, suddenly the sound of my voice nor my ability to recite the dialogue became a useless. Since it was just the two of us, I practiced alongside her instead, almost in silence except for Bikram’s voice in the background and a few lights instead of the blaring bright ones traditional to a Bikram room.
I had teach not with my words but with empathy and patience.
While my regular classes have been monumental in my first year of teaching, the past month with my new group of students have made me remember that to be a yogi, you must be human too. And to be a good teacher, you mustn’t forget to be human.
I have one more Sunday to spend with them, and it has been well worth the commute.