One of my long-standing students is moving abroad this week and last week was his final class with me. Earlier this year, another regular got a job in another part of the country and left as well. Both students are committed yogis who came to class every week whether rain, sunshine or snow and their leaving Norwich has brought up a host of emotions for me as a teacher. I thought it would be interesting and therapeutic for me to write about it. Here’s a list of just 10 of the many ways that you, as a student, teach me as the instructor life lessons each and every class:
1. Happiness is a discipline that takes practice; and takes a commitment. Turning up each week to class, consistently, does not mean that you are feeling on top of your game each week. I suspect its quite often the opposite. But you turn up anyway, and I salute you as this makes me also turn up, each and every time.
2. Practice really does make perfect. The student that is leaving this week started about 5 years ago in a corporate class I was teaching, and in his final class his bound side angle pose was the most perfect I have ever seen. This posture is notoriously hard, but this student came every single week without fail.
3. Yoga really is a breathing practice; the postures are secondary. People come to breathe more than anything else.
4. Stressful situations in work and life can be felt in the body as tensions, a heaviness or sometimes even pain. I have felt it and I know that you are feeling it, sometimes I can even sense that things are tough for you by how I am observing your practice. And with this we build empathy for one another. We are in this together after all.
5. While we each have a body, we are one body and while yoga appears to be about the self it’s actually about serving the collective. You know, your family and your world. There are some students who come to the late evening classes and I know that their biggest alignment issue has been getting all the stars to align to be there. Children, fed, bathed, homework done + in bed. I am in awe, every single time.
6. Making an effort is always worth it. That’s me getting dressed up for the occasion! lol. But seriously, this lesson was something I first learnt with early morning surfs. It is always worth it. Practicing and teaching yoga is ALWAYS worth it. You won’t leave the mat regretful of what happened. And this is so useful in life. Get up, get out there!
7. Yoga is transformative. This relates to number 6 – the transformation is the state of mind from pre yoga to post yoga class. And of all the movements we do in the class this is the biggest achievement.
8. We are more capable than we think we are. And what’s with that? But I see it time and time again, people drawing shapes in a class that they never thought they could pre class. Relates to the transformative nature of the game 😉
9. People are breaking all the time, and they are reassembling all the time also. And sometimes yoga can be a very useful part of this un-breaking, and this reassembling.
10. When people do things together as a group, amazing things can be achieved. Backbends, handstands, arm balances… there is no way that after the day like we’ve all had you – or I – would have done any (or all!) of that at the end of the day. The group energy helps – its elevates beyond your own perception of your ability or limits and it feathers your fall. It picks you up when you’re down and it helps you have a laugh at yourself when you take it too seriously. Group yoga classes are such positive places. In short it’s life and humanity affirming.
I am not sure if I will see said student in a class of mine again; life is like that sometimes. But the lessons live on and for that I am so very grateful. This gratitude that I have will translate into a sense of inspiration and commitment to the classes I teach and the students I serve. I can’t wait to learn more from the students still in my classes and those I haven’t met yet but will one day come through my door and sit on a mat in a yoga class. I really do learn so much from you.