My role as a yoga teacher is something I take seriously. I appreciate this gift but also recognize just what that role is...and maybe more importantly, what it isn’t. Let me explain.
My husband recently shared a story he saw online. It was in the perspective of a yoga teacher that held a regular class at a studio. He had a beautiful variety of people that attended. One day, a particularly reserved woman entered, promptly plopped herself facedown on her mat, and never moved from that one position for the entire length of the class. At the end of class, she rolled up her mat and left. She returned, only to do the same exact thing, not just two or three more times but for several classes. She stayed in her own space in every way physically, mentally, and spiritually. The rest of the class proceeded with their own rhythm, but following the guidance of the teacher.
After about a month she came to class as usual, rolled out her mat, but this time... she participated in the instruction of the class for the first time. The teacher made no comment. That’s important. The teacher made no comment when she didn’t follow the rest of the class. The teacher made no comment when she did.
She kept coming back. Like the water of a creek after hard rain, she came into a new rhythm of being there.
After some time, the instructor learned a bit more as to why she did what she did for so long. It turns out she had been through a horribly tragic event. She came to class and just needed to BE there. She felt safe and comfortrd there. The teacher gave her that opportunity with no judgement. When Sean told me this story, I immediately gave him an animated, “yes!”
It reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a student. We had just finished a Bikram series class. Let’s just say that she “loosely“ followed the class. What I mean by that is she replaced certain poses with whatever she felt more comfortable doing that day. After, she mentioned it to me and hoped it was okay. That was when I reassured her that my job as a teacher isn’t to tell her what she needs. It’s my job to create an environment where she learns to figure that out for herself. As long as our students are keeping themselves safe, I am simply a guide in this practice. I want our students to learn what they need for themselves. That’s the practice of yoga. True strength is found in knowing ourselves. It’s understanding when your creek bed is dry just as much as knowing when our creek is flooded.
So if what you need is to come and face plant on your mat for an hour, I applaud you for honoring what you need and not letting anything get in the way of that. Listen to your true inner self. Learn who you are and keep the water flowing in the rhythm that speaks to you.
Yours in Yoga,