It is often the people who need yoga the most that frustrate me the most. The students who have little to no impulse control, the people who cannot stop fidgeting and moving during moments of stillness, the people who don’t understand that loudly asking a question or demanding something of the teacher mid class disrupts the other students who are trying to focus on their practices, the ones who seem to forget, or not care, that there are other people in the world with the same amount of importance of as themselves. And, slightly more benign, those that choose to move into the most advanced variations of poses immediately. Now I know it is important to listen to your body and practice in the way that your body needs on any given day, but you do not need to wrap yourself into a full pretzel the very first time a pose is done in class. Have a little trust in me, the teacher, that I am progressively working up to more advanced variations and in the first fifteen minutes of class my goal is to warm you, the student, up so that you may safely wrap yourself into crazy pretzel shapes. In other words…be patient.
Every time I catch myself feeling super irritated toward a student I pause and ask myself, “Why?” I, like most people, like to be in control of situations; the unknown is scary. As the teacher I feel responsible for keeping everyone safe and providing an experience that allows each student to discover something new about him or herself. I want control over the environment and flow of each class. These students are attempting to control their experiences in classes because relinquishing control is frightening. They remind me that I am not really in control. None of us are in control of as much as we would like to be.
When things are familiar and predictable I tend to feel safe and comfortable, I think this is true for most people. Yoga classes can be a bit scary because as a student I can never be 100% sure what will occur; even in practices with the same sequencing of poses every time. Each time I do a pose it is slightly different depending on how I am physically, mentally, and emotionally feeling at that particular moment. The teacher, even those I have studied with for years, may say something new and unexpected or give me a new correction that alters my experience of a pose I thought I had fully settled into. As a student I have to let go in order to receive what the teacher is trying to teach me. As a teacher, I have to let go of my agenda to be open to what my students are telling me, verbally and physically. When we try to control, either as teacher or as student, we close ourselves off to the limitless possibilities that lie within each moment. Yoga teaches us to let go of the “I,” the ego, and embrace the universal, the deep connection with have with everyone and everything once we release the “I.” I want to be a good teacher and control what happens in class…all about me. I am going to give into my every impulse and do what I want in class…all about me. True yoga…all about we.