in life and in yoga: i will definitely be back
Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience. ~Paulo Coehlo
It’s just about two minutes before class time and I’m standing in front of the lobby desk waiting to talk to the receptionist. I don’t recognize the girl standing next to me asking if she can cancel her spot in class and change it to another time. She’s tired and she didn’t know the regular teacher had a sub, although she wasn’t saying that last bit. I’m silent as the receptionist and studio owner let her know that, although the choice is hers, they encourage her to stay since she’s here, anyway. “Adi’s great. We think you’ll really like her.” I don’t let her know that I’m Adi because I don’t want to make her uncomfortable, and I watch as she, with strong and successful effort, resists herself and slips off her shoes before walking into the practice space. She didn’t want to be there. Or, rather, she didn’t want to be there without her teacher. She didn’t say it with her mouth, but her body practically screamed it. I didn’t take it personally, though, because I knew it wasn’t about me. This was her thing. Just as it had been my thing when I once walked into a studio and was surprised with a sub. Yes, I’ve been that girl. Yes, I’ve had to resist myself and, yes, I too, begrudgingly unrolled my mat to spend 60 minutes with a stranger.
“Alright guys, shall we continue our yoga? Let’s start on our backs. Savasana with a heart opener, if that sounds good.” As they settle in, I ask them to fill their bodies up with breath and then let the exhale roll slowly out. “Twice more, yogis, as you continue to make space for yourself… and then find that sense of ease.” I won’t take you through the whole class, here, but I let them linger in stillness a little longer than normal, that evening, because I wanted to offer constant movement once they were on their feet. I find that when I am forced to focus on rhythmic transitions, my thinking brain gets a rest. Exquisite stillness for the mind, if you will. Perhaps I was projecting my tendencies onto this girl, but each flow seemed to soften her a little. “Land in chair pose, guys. Sink it low, reach it high for Utkatasana because I’ve got a story for you, and what better time to tell one than when you’re all in chair?” I glance over at my new student and give her a little wink and a smile. She smiled back, even with her eyes.
I ended them as I started them: on their backs, hearts wide open. Why am I telling this story? Well… because it’s real life. The unexpected smacks us in the face all the time, and more often than not, the blow comes precisely when we think we can handle it the least. I always say that what happens matters less than how you react to it. You only have to choose to be a little open, and then time will take care of the rest. In life and in yoga, right?
“Thank you for that, Adi. I will definitely be back.” She didn’t have to tell me. Once again, I could see it in her face.