I was teaching a yoga class the other day and noticed a side conversation I was having with myself about the class, the students, and the practice. It’s amazing how much “side conversation” one can have while being responsible for an entire room of people following your every line of direction and physical movement! The students seemed void of emotion, the background music was flat, and I was not enjoying what is usually my passion. Something had to shift or I was about to move into the inevitable burn out phase of teaching.
This is true about anything that grows habitual in life. Life has this funny way of rushing by, doing “Life” to me, and leaving me feeling thoroughly used up at the end of each day, but often uninspired. Even with a clear schedule, demands, responsibilities, great plans, if I fail to miss the moment, I get lost in the current of the doings. Although I am “productive”, I feel captured in my calendar and dream of a moment in time when I can relax into life and breathe. This begs the question: What would it take for me to relax into the present space and breathe while I am in the midst of teaching?
Practicing yoga has taught me how energy flows in my body. It begins with a sensation, moves into thought, and produces an emotion that often promotes an action. To break it down simply, I start at the beginning. Upon my mat, I feel my feet grounded. I can sense the various places upon which my feet touch my mat. Perhaps its the thought of how my mat feels beneath me. Here I am standing firmly with intention. I feel the sturdiness of my mat which provokes the thought of how much I enjoy the worn teal like color and broken in recycled rubber that constitutes the makeup of my beloved, high quality mat that I debated buying for quite some time. Now, 8 years old, it is one of my coveted belongings. The thought of good judgement and dignity crosses my mind. And quickly, another thought surfaces: I love practicing yoga. I inhale and feel the sensation of my lungs expanding, my body nourished by the oxygen. The thought of intentional breathing enters the moment. So quickly do the thoughts rush in. Slow down, I invite my being back to the present. The emotion of anticipation, joy, and contentment flood my being. And so it goes. The unfolding of the senses to thought to emotion cycle flows within my body.
I will fluctuate between watching this cycle and being the cycle throughout my practice as I teach. I will take in the silent, secret correspondence I have with myself as I instruct. All the while, holding the space for the yogis around me to acclimate and expand as their practice allows, I weave myself through time. The miracle occurs, and burn out loses its grip once again, as I dance with the experience of now. It is a true joy to teach for the sake of my own transformation. The more I give myself over to the beloved present, the more I am free. And for me, all that is in the freedom is Love. Mary Oliver beckons, “What will you do with you one wild and precious life?”
This practice, my friend, this practice is worth my life.