This week I taught two yoga classes to two different private clients and neither session contained any Asana. Not a lick. No downdog, no Uttanasana, or Trikonasana not even an inkling of a thigh stretch or hamstring stretch. Nada on the Asana!
Instead, my clients and I talked. We got to know each other, imagine that! I heard their stories and as the conversation grew my clients changed right in front of my eyes when I started to understand their motivations in behavior and the subtle ways in which they communicate. Contact was lengthened, stretched rather than condensed to a short hello, an hour of asana and then a Namaste and out the door and ‘on yer bike’ (an Australian expression for getting on your way).
I basically got to know them as more than a lovely person in a yoga pose.
I didn’t mean for the sessions to go this way, in fact, I kept looking at the clock thinking “alright, I’ll give another 5min and then we’ll get started” but 5min came and went and the conversation was still happening. And, thriving. In fact, one of the clients, seeing me check the time, stopped mid sentence and said “This is yoga too, I’m getting a lot out of this, you’re doing your job”.
It happened like this. I asked “How are you?’ and instead of half-hearing their response as I prepared to get them moving on their mat, I stopped, listened and gave total attention to the answer. I spoke only when relevant (it was a conversation after all) and 75min later our yoga session ended.
What happened on the mat wasn’t a sequence of familiar yoga poses. No, what happened on the mat was a sequence of connection that will most definitely turn those familiar yoga poses, in the near future, into something of meaning between the two of us. When he, or she, struggles in a twist I’ll know it’s because of their own struggle to turn their life around. When she goes into child’s pose and I see her entire spine expand from a deep breath, I’ll know it’s because she finally found a moment to devote to herself that day and after a lot of loss in her life, she’s trying to find more of those moments. When he gets up, mid pose to look at something that caught his eye, I’ll know that he’s been doing this since he was a child – always curious about life.
When we, as yoga teachers, take our certification and step out into the world to be of service – it can easily turn into a career which feels a lot more like teaching an exercise class than one of connection. The physical art of yoga is beautiful, watching someone surrender to the movement and flow is captivating – and being someone who can surrender to the art and flow of one’s own body is breathtaking. People want to have that experience. But, ultimately our job is to teach connection and yes it starts in the body and connecting an engaged thigh to a healthy hamstring stretch but then it has to move beyond just that. Don’t you think?
Anyway, if I’d been so attached to yoga being only confined to the mat I wouldn’t have had that moment with my client, standing on his balcony, professional sling shot strapped to our arms slinging pellets at his surfboard (now being used as his target) sitting out on the water. We wouldn’t have had that 10 minutes of laughing hysterically at the silliness of it and my surprise aggression toward wanting to hit that thing so badly!. So much more fun than Warrior 2!
Sometimes we become so fixated on what something should look like that we stop being open to the many forms it can take. Like any good relationship, any worthwhile connection, if we’ve become so attached to it’s original form then we lose sight of it’s potential, and then eventually – lose sight of any need for it.
What can you look at differently today? Or, what are you so attached to that you’re not being creative enough to change it’s form?
Just because I love when people (who are yogi’s themselves)mock the yoga world (an oldie for sure)