Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On Being Open to the Possibilities

Something happened at the yoga studio today that I want to write about.

The teacher for the mid-day class is away this week, so another teacher subbed her class. It's a Level I/II class, which means that students will begin to learn some of the more advanced poses, such as inversions like handstand, headstand and shoulderstand. Because they are learning, students aren't expected to be proficient - each one will be at a different stage of the learning process. With handstand for example, some may only be at the point of learning where to place their hands on the floor and lifting one leg in the air. Others may be trying to kick up. And a few may get themselves up there for a terrifying but exhilarating two-and-half seconds.

Anyway, about two-thirds of the way through class, one student came out and started packing up her things. I could tell she was in a huff. She said, "I want to give you some feedback about the class. I always come to this class because we never do inversions and today we did two different ones."

I said, "Okay, I understand and I'm sorry you didn't like the class. But in a Level I/II class you should expect to be starting to learn inversions."

She said, "Learning to do them maybe, but not DOING them!" And she stormed out.

I stared after her thinking, but how will you ever learn to do them if you don't try doing them?

We all have our favorite yoga teachers, and it's normal to sometimes sigh with disappointment when we get to class and see that someone else is teaching. I know, because I've been there myself. But after a while I learned something important: Every time I stayed to take the sub's class, I learned something new. Even if I wasn't crazy about the person's style, there was always something, some instruction that got through to me in a new way, some new variation on an old pose, some useful insight about the practice that no one else had ever given me before.  And so I learned to get over myself and be more open to the gift that was being offered.

Yoga teachers, like all teachers, show up to give of themselves for not very much monetary reward. I don't mean to be too judgemental of this lady today (just a little judgemental :-) because it's such a human thing to want things to be the way we want them. It's just that I'm thinking more about this teacher who made the effort to prepare what she hoped would be a good and challenging class, and showed up to share what she knows about yoga. 

And it  makes me want to put out this plea for us all to be a little more grateful for that, to be a little less focused on getting what we think we want, and a little more willing to let go, open up, and perhaps trust that the gift that is being offered may actually be even better than what we thought we wanted. 


  1. A wonderfuland healthy perspective on new possiblities. Nicely written. Namaste!

  2. I love this!!! so true!I'm thinking of how many times I have closed myself off from trying something or even allowing it to sink in a bit before running away. Thanks for this! Blessings, Joanne

  3. Change is challenge and challenge keeps us alert.

  4. Oh, yes, Mellissa. We all need to be more tolerant of differences and be open to learning something from another way of doing things, thinking about things, etc. Thanks for this post. Namaste,

  5. It's true. If we don't open our mind to all possibilities, we might miss something good and/or important.

    Sometimes in college I would think a class was boring. But that was because I went into it EXPECTING it to be boring. When I decided to focus on getting at least something out of a class, then I did. I think we can always learn something in any situation if we're willing to look and to listen.

    A great post.

    And thank you for stopping by and congratulating me on the release of my ebook.

  6. Thank you for this post... was it my class???
    What we need to keep in mind is that Yoga is about being aware and present... in this way, we are open to new experience, enriching our lives... It's about being able to listen not just hear. Some don't like to listen, period. We do what we can as teachers.
    Hard lesson. miss your smile.

  7. Thanks for this, very inspiring. I loved this line:

    "but how will you ever learn to do them if you don't try doing them?"

    That's the motto I'm trying to live by now, for so long I backed away from even trying to do new things. You never get anywhere if you're not open to trying.

    Thanks for sharing this experience!

  8. Love these comments! We all do this, and sometimes we only "see" it when someone else does it right in front of us. The point works for writing as well as yoga or anything else - how will you ever do it if you don't try doing it?

  9. Change usually makes me cranky for about 3 seconds, then I remember that I actually like it.

    My first inversion in yoga class was last week. It was fun, but mostely because it was just a headstand. I have been able to do those since I was three. That change was easy, most are harder.


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