The other day, someone stuck her tongue out at me. Even more surprisingly, it was while I was teaching yoga.
She and her friend had come late into class, and the rest of the students were in Supported Bridge-eyes closed and connecting with their breath. So, as this woman came in talking loudly and throwing down her mat-it startled the whole room. So, to make her aware, I very quietly said “Shhhhhh”. Not a schoolmarm “Shush”-but something to quietly make her aware.
Without missing a beat, the woman looked up at me and STUCK OUT HER TONGUE!
My first reaction was to burst out in laughter, but I held that in check.
Then, as I began teaching class, I found myself getting angry. This is yoga after all!! Where is the respect for the practice, for the studio, for ME? (Ah, the ego………)
So, I focused on teaching and then found myself really respecting this woman. I watched her struggle in the poses, watched her looking around at other students out of insecurity, watched her work and sweat and really try.
By the end of class, I felt such empathy for this woman who’d stuck her tongue out at me just 90 minutes earlier.
After all, it’s kind of scary to come into a space and try all these crazy poses that are guaranteed to make us stumble, fumble and fall. It’s intimidating to enter a space filled with young, hardbodied gymnast types when you are new and unsure.
Then I thought of my own practice. How it accepts me even when I’m sleep deprived, depressed and down. And, how it even accepts me when I’m being bratty.
Maybe the whole point is that yoga is here to accept us how we are -despite our flaws and ego. We find a space to practice where are welcomed with open arms-even when we feel we deserve it the least. And, maybe in that space, we can tap into our true divine spirit.
This student continues to come to my class, and she works SO hard and diligently: it’s an honor to be part of her path. And, I realize that, in sticking out her tongue at me-she taught me something about my judgements and limitations that I needed to be taught. And, the empathy that came out of that allowed my teaching to grow a little bit. And, that if a brat like me can find peace and serenity in teaching yoga-there’s hope for us all!
Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.
Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)