When Your Yoga Teacher is Not Full of Sunshine

Two days after the Boston bombings, I was scheduled to teach a late night Vinyasa flow, but I could barely get myself out of bed. I’d retreated there after crying tears and tears and tears of sorrow for this world, which sometimes, seems quiet pointless. Seeing the violence in Boston, and bombings in Iraq, along with a Campus Safety warning about a recent sexual assault, multiplied by each and every person experiencing homelessness and hunger that I passed on the street on my way home, escaping into sleep was the only thing that I felt capable of doing. I was tired. Tired of heartache, tired of despair, and tired of wondering what really was the point of this crazy, crazy world.

I felt unable to teach—how was I supposed to walk into a studio, and be the bright ray of sunshine that I thought I was supposed to be? I had no hope to share.

Reluctantly, I dragged myself out of bed, got to the studio, and somehow managed to get my students checked in. Realizing that there was not going to be any “faking it till you make it”, I walked into the low-lit room, and did something that I didn’t think I could do. I was completely honest.

I told them that I was really struggling with the hardships around the world, and how to make sense of it all. There was no grand lesson, no yogic wisdom, just simple authenticity. The class stayed quiet, as we slowly cat/cow’ed our way into our practice. With each breath, I began to feel myself coming back into my zombie body. The students held the space deeply, creating a powerful, unified breath throughout the class, and moving with grace, gentleness, and  integrity.

I’d like to say that I finished the class, with all the hope in world returned. Truth is, as we bowed in our final namaste, sending our practice to all those in the world who needed a moment of peace and calm, I was still fighting back tears. But so were many in the room. The practice had not turned me back into a ray of sunshine, but watching my students come together, and practice so fully in honor of all other beings—it was a spark. And while my heart still felt heavy, a small beacon of hope was ignited, like a lighthouse emerging in the dark, stormy night.  I realized then that as a yoga teacher, it is not my job to hold the hope for the class. For who can possibly carry that weight? Rather, it is the job of the yoga community to hold the light for each other, to remind us all of the inner light, and the inherent goodness in ourselves,and  in in others. Yogis of all types, whether they practice asanas or not, are everywhere in our lives if we choose to look and listen for them. For every act of hatred and violence, I do believe there are thousands of acts of kindness and beings ready to help you remember that life, while I don’t understand it, is good

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