In the short time I’ve been a yoga teacher, I think I’ve probably heard, or been on the receiving end of, just about every possible (mis)conception about yoga and yoga teachers. It’s amazing what folks will believe and say. I wonder if it’s because of misinformation, stereotypical yogis portrayed in the media, or even if it’s just long held adolescent fantasies. You should see the looks my husband gets when he tells other men that his wife is a yoga teacher. You should see the looks I get when I tell folks I am a yoga teacher (before they see my wedding ring, that is, and sometimes even after!) Yes, it’s true, I can bend in just about any way imaginable. Yes, it’s true, I sometimes defy gravity. And yes, I know enough about Mula Banda to make even the most seasoned *ahem* professionals want to take notes.
The thing that really matters, however, isn’t want happens with the matter attached to my bones. What really matters is what happens to the sexiest organ I have. Yep, it’s ripe and lush and juicy and full and open. It’s ready. It’s waiting.
It’s my BRAIN.
My father is a very, um, disciplined man. Everything has it’s place, everything is in it’s place, and everything has a time and that time will not begin 2 minutes late. At least that’s how he was while I was growing up. There was no spontaneity. There was nothing done on a whim. Schedule changes needed to be submitted in writing, in triplicate, no less than 72 hours in advance. Anything left on the floor was thrown away. Be up and dressed by 8am unless your dead … and then you have until 8:30. While this kind of lifestyle has it’s merits (I was NEVER late and still consider anything above 10 minute early to be On Time, the toilet paper always goes in it’s correct position, and let me tell you, I know how to fold towels) it also comes with a hefty dose of rigidity.
While I can bend my back so far I can lick my heels (okay, I need to stop saying shit like that because it’s what leads to folks looking at me with that “how YOU doin'” glaze in their eyes,) it has been a long fought effort for me to learn to roll with the punches. Any sign of instability would cause me to freak out, start controlling, fuel the fire of self doubt. Let me tell you, that works SO well when parenting…. not. I have burned more than one bridge in my life by expecting exactness, I have caused myself more blood pressure issues than any woman of my age should have, and I have missed opportunities all because I couldn’t bend with the breeze. All of that started changing when I made a promise to myself that I would keep one consistent thing in my life forever and ever regardless of circumstance – my relationship with my yoga mat.
Every teacher has their own thing. I often start my classes with inviting my students to eliminate all senses of judgement, competition, and expectations. I think this helps folks realize that it doesn’t matter what happens on the mat next to them or what happened on their own mat yesterday. It invites people to just be with, and accept, what is in this moment. I have heard it said that we teach what we most need to learn. I am living proof that this is true.
Because of my time on my mat, I am more able to roll with the punches. I can accept things that happen and move on. I am open to schedule changes, cancellations, member additions, and, gasp, lateness! I can see the beauty in being fluid. I’m so much happier without the time clock, with mismatched socks, with humanness. Basically, I’m just happier. And it’s all because I do yoga on my mat … and in my head.