I talk a lot in my classes about habits and patterns that we create in our lives. And while some of these habits are worthwhile and healthy, like brushing your teeth, many, many, many of them are just filler. And this is where the magic begins.
I think about some of the lecturers I had in college, and how the monotony of their voices would make me drift off. Sometimes it was straight up sleep, sometimes a daydream, sometimes just the scary bowels of my overly anxious brain. But in any of these cases I was never really present.
And this is how many of us are living our lives, lulled into a half sleep by the persistent monotony of our own patterns.
I was talking with a friend recently who told me a story about driving a car that was not her own. “My car has a back up sensor, so when I was pulling out of my garage I had no idea I was going to scratch the side until it was too late.”
My eyes got real big, not out of judgment or surprise, but more like: “oh girl, you know that’s what this practice is here for.”
But all of that is your work as a student. It’s your job to wake up. It’s your job to identify all of the knots you’ve created and begin the slow steady work of untying them. But then I come back to the question at hand WHAT THE FUCK IS MY JOB!?
We so often talk about the experience of yoga practice as a path or a journey. And for a long time I thought my job was to guide people down that path. But: A. People are theoretically at different points of the “path” and it would be impossible for me to meet them all in a 60 minute class. And more importantly: B. I’m not even sure this “path” even exists.
I was listening to an interview with Richard Rosen and he dropped this little piece of knowledge: “There is no path or journey. We are already enlightened, we just need to realize it.”
I wish I could illustrate the reaction that my brain had, I would compare it to a burst of confetti and fireworks at the same time. Because this is what I’m talking about. We don’t need more. We don’t need to be led some place. We don’t need to change. We just need to wake up. We need to rediscover our instincts. We need to tap back into the shit we already know, but we’ve just forgotten.
It’s like this: imagine you live in one single dark room. You can’t see your surroundings very well, but overtime through trial and error & probably a lot of bruises and cursing, you develop safe ways to travel in the space. But that’s it. You only know those few ways to navigate your surroundings.
When you arrive at yoga, you’re encouraged to start exploring the space again. And maybe you get frustrated, because all you feel like you’re doing is banging your shins against shit that you know is in your way, but you can’t quite figure out why or how to get around/through/over it.
This is what our practice feels like in the beginning: stumbling around in the dark.
But in all of this stumbling, you might start to realize: “Oh sweet! There’s a light switch over here.” And as you turn on the light you can see the things around you, which aren’t always pretty, and it can be tempting to turn the light back off. But you’ll also realize there are doors to other rooms to explore. You don’t have to stay stuck in this one shitty dark room for the rest of your life.
And now, my job is definitely NOT to tell you where the light switch is located, because that is going to be different for everyone. My job is to encourage you to keep stumbling because eventually you’ll find it yourself.
So like, how does this translate to real life?
My job is to teach you yoga, to encourage you to move in new and different ways, and to let you do it for yourself. My job isn’t to hold your hand, or control you, or give you all the answers.
Nothing makes me feel more accomplished as a teacher than seeing my students experimenting on their mats, following their internal compass…even if it takes them in a slightly different direction than the rest of the class.
Because this practice that I teach is not about me, it is way bigger than that. It is way bigger than a single posture, or sequence, or class. This is about your life. Honestly, this is about all of our lives.