As a teacher and studio owner, it can be challenging to maintain my practice on the mat. When I practice at home and I discover a sequence that I want to share with students, I will stop mid-practice to write it down. It does not happen every self-practice, but enough that I have to consciously think about NOT doing it. So, I was very excited when Sharon and I decided to visit different studios and take our practice ‘on the road’! Sometimes I just want to be the student, not be known as a teacher, and when I am on the mat, I want to be fully present.
I met my sister at our Dad’s house in Woburn (right outside Boston where we grew up), we set the GPS for 28 Arlington Street and we were on our way. When we arrived at Exhale Spa, I was immediately impressed by the lobby/reception area and the professionalism of the staff. While Sharon was checking us in I noticed that we were also standing in the yoga boutique. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I am always on the search for the perfect yoga top, so I turned to look at the clothing, was feeling the fabric of one of the tops and a gentleman said to me “Feels like butter, doesn’t it?” I replied, yes it does – because it did. We chose a few items to try on after class and happily purchased some butter-like yoga tops. (www.samtosaclothing.com) The owner of the clothing line, David, was also attending Emily’s class and as we rode down the elevator, he said to us – “Are you two sisters?” (we get that a lot) and after we replied that we are sisters he said “you are like two buttons”. We looked at him quizzically and he said “as in cute as buttons”.
It was finally time to enter the yoga studio, a space large enough for 40-50 students, dimly lit, with a large statue, and candles – it was really beautiful, warm and inviting. The teacher, Emily, instructed us to lie on our backs and get comfortable while she moved around the room to greet new students and say hello to returning students. I got a bolster and immediately went into my favorite Restorative Yoga pose (remember I LOVE “Nappy” Yoga – see another previous entry). When Emily arrived at our mats, she stood over me and Sharon and said “You are sisters, aren’t you?” Then she looked at me and said “you are a yoga teacher”. She informed the class that she can tell when someone is a teacher by how they are in the pose. Well, so much for being incognito!
Emily did a fantastic job of managing the all levels class. During the class I was impressed that she: 1) made everyone feel comfortable by welcoming EVERY student; 2) gave information to keep students safe from injury; 3) combined a lot of good information about correct alignment and modifications, 4) reminded us to breathe. It is an art to teach a great flow class providing information for all levels, while not talking too much and including in a funny comment here or there. Emily did all this and more.
She started the class with the new version of the song “We are the World” and I thought – I have not heard this yet, I have been meaning to download it and here it is, playing while I am doing one of my favorite things – practicing yoga. By the time we got to Savasana (the final pose, the resting pose, the ‘corpse pose’ signifying the ‘death’/the end of the practice), I was holding back the tears. It was an emotional practice for me, to be on the mat, to be reminded of what my practice is like when I am truly present, to be connected with my soul. I had a full-fledged ‘yoga bliss’ experience. Yogaaaaahhhhh!
As teachers do not always know the impact we have on students who come to our class. We do not know what each student is facing in any given day – positive or challenging. It is important that we teach from our hearts with authenticity and the knowingness that each student is receiving exactly what they need for this practice on this day. And occasionally a student will tell us what it meant to them and it reinforces the good work we do to serve our community. So, when I got home I ‘Googled’ Emily, found her yoga website and sent her an email telling her I thought she was a wonderful teacher and thanked her for a fabulous class.