Missives from the Mat 9: Trust #yoga #fear #love #ego

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I’m going to try to keep this short.

I have been a yoga student for almost 16 years. I have taught children as a volunteer, I have taught friends as a gift and I’ve recently started giving private lessons.

I just returned from providing a private lesson to a good friend and her husband.

As I’m not yet certified, I feel odd asking for payment or even suggesting a rate despite my experience. But my friends have insisted.

For today’s session, I drove to her. The private time it afforded me back and forth in my car was so nice. I heard no requests for a cookie or a question about a video game. I just listened to my yoga music and stayed in my space.

True yoga is not about pretzel bodies, or heat-induced hyper flexion, or pinky-finger balances. It’s been so contorted (ironically) by the media and the craving of the masses to come up with something new — as if 5,000-year-old yoga and meditation on their own isn’t good enough; people have to go inventing new versions of it: yogalates and hot yoga… soon there will be pogoyoga on pogo sticks and YOLOyoga where you do poses on Jersey walls or during bank heists. “Stick ’em up into Virabradrasana I, I want your arms sky high and hold that for 50 breaths until my yogi and I can clear outta here… then take a five minute svasana. Go somewhere special in your heads, somewhere without demands on your life. Namaste an’ shit… y’all. YOLO.”

There is no mat for the egos. Neither the teacher’s nor the student’s. We all start from where we are at that moment.

Where we are –at that moment– naturally varies from day to day; minute to minute. What felt tight one moment might feel loose the next. What felt fine one moment might indeed ache the next. We must be present, honest and aware, in our minds and in our hearts — both as teachers and as students — to truly grow.

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That my friends have trusted me with their health, bodies and their spirits (of their own or their children) is so humbling. That my friend’s husband smiled even after I pressed him further into a pose and told me where the “money poses” were for him… That he said, “I almost went there…” after we transitioned from svasana warmed my heart. It made my spirit soar.

People who take yoga lessons might think that they’re getting a great release, a wonderful lengthening, a challenge to their core or their legs and a 90-minute break from the hither and dither of life, but they’re not the only ones. For the teachers, the moments and space of trust and peace and company are truly: priceless.

I think that’s also why I am uncomfortable taking a fee for the lessons: what we share, what I give and what I get simply can’t be quantified… but I know its value.

I am forever thank-full.

Thank you.

12 responses »

  1. Love the bit about no mat for the egos–we each start where we are. I don’t like where I’m starting from, so I don’t start. But I’ll never get to a different place until I do, right? Got to get to the yoga studio.

  2. I feel that way about my art sometimes. When you share something important it sometimes feels weird to ask for payment. When you use your gifts in the world just touching another person is enough.

    On a side note, if you ever need a side career I think making up new forms of yoga might work out for you. PogoYoga YOLO! I’m thinking you may be onto something here 😉

  3. I totally want to be in the bank when you lose your mind and decide to hold it up. That was awesome. Regarding payment, I know what you mean. I mean, I can envision what you mean – I have no bankable talent, unless you count scaring my friends’ kids into behaving better when they’re around me. Would you feel better if you paid a little forward? Robin Hood-like, without the theft? Or the tights?

    • oh, it would be The Best Yoga Class Ever. peeps be talkin’ for years about it an’ whatnot.

      i have to be cool with letting people pay me … i just do. the certification will end up being in the $5k neighborhood. for me to not want to recoup even a fraction of that is silliness and it does nothing for the economy and it sort of makes the client feel like a charity case. people are used to paying for a service. i’m just not used to being paid at all! HA! and definitely with the tights — or at least yoga pants. we must be comfortable. xo

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