As yoga teachers, we see many people in our classes. My regulars downtown? The die-hard yogi, the dancer, the athlete. The lawyer, the soccer mom, the hippie, the banker, the walking Lululemon advertisement. They’re all there.
Today, I had a group of strangers. Strangers to me because I had just started teaching at a new studio north of the city. Strangers because I didn’t know their bodies or their names.
I was excited to teach because it was something new. Never could I have imagined what I would take home with me today.
As class went on, it had become apparent that these group of strangers weren’t like my regulars: the husband whose toes wouldn’t touch together no matter how many times he tried, his wife who was every bit his partner across the room, the mother and daughter who practiced side by side, and the 60-yr old jubilant lady with the smile who kept on wiping her sweat guiltily in between postures. And these strangers were teaching me something.
How exactly were they teaching me when it was I who stood on that podium, speaking dialogue and directions? Well, as the husband attempted to bring his feet together for umpteenth time and the jubilant lady sat down to catch her breath, they both smiled. They smiled at me despite the sheer effort that I know it took just to get through this tough practice.
Teachers know that the poses aren’t the object, but the body. Most students do not. But these strangers, my beautiful strangers, their effort wasn’t for the full expression of the poses, a locked out knee, or how good they looked in Lululemon shorts. Their effort was for themselves, fuelled by the sheer determination that maybe one day the feet will touch. And that if that day never does come in their lifetime, they will still continue to try. And they will continue to smile along the way.
After I finished the class, the jubilant lady came up to me and said that she found my voice inspiring, so she tried her ‘best’. I was humbled and in shock, not for the flattery, but because she has no idea just how much she had inspired me with those words.
She tried her best.
I had been so excited to teach, when it was a group of strangers who taught me more than I could ever have imagined in 90 minutes.