I have tried to write this post, or a version of this post for months now. But I didn’t know how to say these things in a way that did my yoga students justice, that actually expressed how awesome they are. Here it is, I tried my best!
Dear yoga students,
Do you even know how much I admire you? Your willingness to unroll your mats, to do the work, to breathe, to attempt a handstand, to hold pigeon pose for five minutes–that is so refreshing to see, and it gives me hope by the truck load.
Do you have any idea how insanely beautiful it is to see you drop to your knees, lay your chest forward, arms stretched into a child’s pose as I call for another vinyasa? Do you know that I know you are almost all physically capable of doing crazy arm balances and super advanced versions of poses? I know it. But the most amazing thing is when I give you an advanced option for a pose, you try it, realize your breath is getting shallow or something just doesn’t feel good, and so you go back to the first version. God. I want to come over and hug you, tackle you to the ground and squeeze you tight. Don’t worry, I won’t. But know that I want to.
I don’t care how your poses look. They are all perfect. Even that time you laid on your belly for half of class, just breathing. I can tell when you’re being true to what your body needs. I can tell when you’re moving like yourself. This does not go unnoticed.
Sometimes, I see your tears. I don’t know all of your stories but I know you hurt. I hurt too. Some days all my voice does is shake. I see that in you. You still came to class. That kind of strength and fearlessness is rare and I am so proud of you.
I see your smiles. Hot damn do I see your smiles! There is divinity in how you wobble out of dancer’s pose and how then corners of your mouth turn up. Not a pity smile, but a full smile–like how you know falling out of a pose doesn’t mean shit, but somehow it still gets to you. And so you smile. Because it’s all funny. Yoga is funny. Things in this life that we allow to get to us–hilarious. You have a great sense of humor.
I know that my classes are sometimes extremely challenging. Not physically necessarily. But for the ego. I will not congratulate you for a handstand, I will not tell you that you have a beautiful practice. Because handstands don’t matter and of course your practice is beautiful. I will teach a balancing section of class and you will probably wobble and wish you were in a different class, with that teacher that doesn’t teach the annoying poses. Class will be uncomfortably silent at times, I will be metaphorically in your face about staying with your breath and staying true to your body, you will hold forward folds for longer than you’re used to. If you go into an advanced version of a pose and I see your breath grow shallow, I will come over and physically put you into a different pose. Sorry. But I care way more about your health and safety than fluffing up your ego as you stay in a pose that isn’t good for your body.
I am truly amazed at how understanding you are about the times I have left you to go travel. Thank you. Thank you for letting me be 24 years old. Thank you for remembering how it was when you were my age, or how it will be in a few years when you are my age, and that sometimes you too like driving your car across the country for a few months for no real reason other than to climb up some rocks. Thank you for letting me be human, for not feeling abandoned when I get my class subbed out so I can do things like go to dinner with my Dad on his birthday.
You are my teachers. I learn so much from you, watching you practice, watching you learn, and it makes me a better girl. You give me guidance and clarity and comfort in the most confusing of times, the darkest of days, the saddest of situations. The moment we all open our eyes after class has proven to be my most favorite time of day.
And I remember all of you. Even those of you took my classes back in the day at the RAC at Georgia Southern. I remember you from Diablo Rock Gym at 6am. I remember those of you at Lava Fitness after your workouts. I especially remember you all in the orange or blue room at Savannah Yoga Center. I remember all of the retreats, the private lessons, the times at the beach I helped you into a handstand, those of you who after a day of climbing ask me how to stretch out a hip flexor. And now, I will not forget all of you from Square One, the little girls at Ironworks–spot me in a backbend Georgie!, the Facebook messages asking how to get started practicing yoga, the studios that allow me to sub. THANK YOU. You all are just the best. I am honored.