I’m going to be journaling some of my most memorable, influential, heart-warming, and interesting moments that have happened during my first year as a yoga instructor.
If you have taken a class of mine, you know how much I love heart and hip openings, setting positive intentions, and teaching self love. I believe we are all spiritual beings and enjoy teaching people that aspect of yoga, turning inward and upward. I might read some encouraging words, share my thoughts and inspirations, or encourage silence towards the end of the practice. Yoga is not all about awesome poses, after all.
A few weeks ago, I taught my usual schedule of hot classes, vinyasa, and restorative and was encouraging patience, or compassion, as an option for an intention. By settling on an intention, it helps to stay present with the breath and focus on being patient with the body through each motion. Being patient with yourself during any sort of activity is quite challenging, but we practice patience with ourselves in these moments to be patient in the world. After a hot yoga class this particular day, a student stopped to ask a few questions (This sometimes makes me nervous because I will always also be a student and will not know all the answers. But I give them my honest opinions and encouragement, and hope for the best). During our practice we worked on hips and balancing; hips can bring up a lot of emotions because we harbor tension and stress there. Balancing can also be quite frustrating when we are not “centered.” The student began asking me how to be patient with an injury.
She had a shoulder injury and was struggling to be kind and patient with her abilities, or discomfort, during class. One shoulder was fine and wanted to work and strengthen but the other shoulder needed much less pressure and more attention. How do you know when to push yourself, and how do you know when to back off? Her mindfulness meditation was very strong but once she began moving, her compassion was not flowing with her breath. Why was moving through this discomfort causing so many emotions to surface? We talked quite a while, and I told her to continue to be patient. This is when she needs it most; when you feel like patience and acceptance are the most difficult. I encouraged her to continue attending intense classes as she wished, but also to explore more restorative practices. Gentleness, love for oneself, and acceptance are so important, but especially dealing with an injury. She teared up, thanked me, and went about her day.
Our conversation really touched me though. With this girl’s job, she was constantly helping other people and giving her mindfulness to her work and the people involved. The body holds onto stress and experiences, and if we do not work to release it, it hovers in the body causing illness, stress, tension, etc. Stretching the hips that morning helped emotions to arise, feelings of anger, frustration, and doubt. She was finally feeling all the hardships that go along with injury and whatever else was stirring in her heart. But she obviously was very in touch with her body and how she was moving. Awareness that something is moving inside the body, inside the heart, is the beginning of digging deeper.
Yoga can be an emotional journey. It is not about putting your foot behind your head (and let me tell you I have been practicing for over a decade and still haven’t mastered that pose!). It is a lifestyle and a practice to make the best of what you have in every situation. A journey to the center of the soul. That means tears, screams, yawns, sobs, hugs, sweat, pain, love, falls, prayers, success, everything. Feeling it all. Yoga is learning how to move forward in life with your emotions and finding who you are along the way.
No matter what you do for an occupation or how you choose to exercise, it is just as important to take time for your emotions.
Everyone comes to yoga for different reasons, and everyone leaves on separate paths. This is why I love teaching yoga. I love connecting with people and helping them explore their emotions and thoughts through moving the body and breathing with intention. My students help me to see why I do what I do, and I love them for it.
I was just very happy to see someone who was vulnerable and aware of the need to explore their emotions. What a life 🙂