I had the privlidge of leading an incredible class today. It wasn’t *me* who made it incredible, it was the students who made it that way. (Here’s a little insider secret to all you folks who aren’t teachers: It’s *always* the students who make a great class. Always.) It was a Monday lunch hour Gentle class and often that class is hit or miss. Today, however, the floor was covered in mats and bodies belonging to amazing yoginis. I looked around at these women as they moved with such grace and felt incredibly humbled and honored to be a yoga teacher.
I love my job. I love providing the environment and holding the space for students as they bloom into their best selves. I love watching the transformations in people, watch their hearts shine like diamonds in the night. It is a journey and we’re all on it together.
Today was a little bitter sweet. Today I said goodbye to one of my long time students for 2 years as she moves to Liberia (yep, the place in Africa) tomorrow as a member of the Peace Corps. I have seen her at least once a week (sometimes 3 or 4 times a week) for almost 2 years now. I’ll never forget the first time I saw her. I was a brand new teacher teaching hot yoga (which, honestly, I’d never even taken before,) and in walks this very shy, quiet woman in glasses with her head turned down to her feet. She didn’t speak to me (or anyone else for that matter), and I wondered what the story was behind those eyes. I taught my class. I felt like a stranger in a strange land. I kind of got the impression that she felt the same way. I didn’t expect to see her again, but there she was 2 days later. And 4 days after that. And then 2 days after that. And then again… and then again.. and then again. Bekka was there for every single class and, eventually, I started talking to her in the locker room. She was quiet, dedicated, and I just *knew* that she was a tightly packed bud getting ready to burst open into the brightest flower in the entire garden.
After several months, I left the facility in which I was teaching to dedicate myself fully to Yoga Sol. I left schedules and business cards with my students from the gym, but honestly didn’t expect much. I should have known better. Bekka walked into Yoga Sol that first week I left the gym and has been there consistently at least once a week. (For what it’s worth, she’s not the only one who followed me to the studio from the gym. If you’re thinking about making a move, do it. They WILL follow.) Over time, we became friends. She and her partner helped me write my bio and they are the folks I spoke about in my Outlaw Yogini article on Elephant Journal. She came to gentle classes, advanced classes, Shakti Shakes, the works. She was there watching me grow and bloom as a teacher and I was watching her grow and bloom as a yogini. What started out as a very quiet tentative relationship bloomed and grew into a deep abiding friendship. We were both the soil and the light that kept us both growing.
Tomorrow, Bekka flies away to Africa to be a math teacher. I’m so proud to know her. She is an amazing person who no longer has her face turned toward her shoes. Her face shines right back at the sun. She can rock a Kamatakarasana, is about to own Bakasana, and have you heard? She is taking on Sirsasana. (Just sayin….) Her laughter drowns out the cicadas (ugh, just google it,) and I’m so glad to have had the chance to grow alongside her. There is a saying that I used to tell expectant parents when I was a doula: “When your child is an infant, you are infants as parents. As your child learns and grows, you learn and grow as a parent.” It’s exactly the same as a yoga teacher. I kind of feel that Bekka and I grew up together on the mat and I will miss her tremendously. Our goodbye was tearful and highly emotional. She left me a note that I will cherish always and I know that I will see her on the mat again when she returns in 2 years.
How we both will have grown!
People ask me often why I teach yoga. Bekka – all the Bekkas in the world – are why. To have reached out and made a difference, even a very small difference, in someone’s life is the reason I do this. To watch people bloom into their best selves, to watch the transformation, to think that, for one small moment, I was a part of it is all the reason in the world for me to keep laying down my mat, making playlists, and laying my hands on folks to show them where to soften, where to strengthen, where to let go, and where to surrender.
Question: who exactly is the teacher and who is the student?
So, Bekka, if you are reading this – travel safe. You are ready. The world needs you. I am so glad to have shared 2 years of your life with you. Thank you for sharing yourself with me.
To you folks who are not Bekka – I am here. I am waiting. I am eager to let you change my life with your own individual awesomeness. I need you on the mat. I need your energy – everyone does. We’re waiting like strangers in a strange land for you to bring us all to a new home.