You would be hard pressed to find a photo of me in a yoga pose, though there are a few (mostly done for fun and in the moment). For me, these are conscious choices as I’m sure they are for everyone. I don’t record videos of my online classes either. I do write these posts with the spirit of offering, not one of forcing content through a tube.
When I first stepped onto the mat in October 2005 it was only because my Naturopathic Doctor prescribed yoga for me to help heal my gut. I had tipped significantly out of balance in many ways and my body was showing it through excessive candida overgrowth. It ripped through my entire system and every part of me was compromised, exhausted, leaking, and foggy.
Yoga was the last thing my beleaguered body wanted and it was what, unbeknownst to me, my spirit craved.
I went to one class a week for years. Held in community halls and church basements around the town where I grew up and where there was only one yoga teacher at the time.
When I moved to NYC in 2010 it took three months before I was called to go to a class. I went one January night to a studio that became a home for me as a student and then as a teacher.
In my mind I could barely “do” yoga and so what right did I have to teach it?
The first time I offered a guided shavasana, I knew. I felt something energize within my heart as I watched my partner relax. I could see her energy settle and lay down. It felt magical and powerful and humbling.
Little by little, I gained the confidence to teach family, then friends (two at a time in my Brooklyn apartment) until one night spirit orchestrated an opening. A teacher didn’t show up for a class I was going to take. I shyly offered those who had assembled that I could… try. Completely unprepared (or so it seemed) the class came through me. Details I would never remember again. It all simply appeared and unfolded and then fell away. My heart soared! The kind students clapped! I was initiated.
What I love about teaching yoga is being present with what is. The energy that each person brings and contributes in the room (or now, on the screen) is different every time. As is mine. Yoga then becomes a co-creation or union between us. Feeding one another. Seeing what will emerge. Playing with energy and helping it to shift. Transform.
A great improvisational, intuitive dance of tapestry flowing, being tugged, shaped, left alone.
What is needed in this moment may not be what is needed in the next.
To me, part of the artistry is in not looking back. Not grasping. I’ve learned through time about my own internal chatter that used to eat me alive, tying my gut up on knots, after a class (or life moment) when I didn’t do something “right” or well (according to my own internal measure). Through repetition of noticing this response after teaching, I’ve learned self-forgiveness. Learned how these “mistakes” are often helpful teaching moments.
I’ve learned that every time I get into my head, worried, assuming that student over there didn’t like class. Caught up in my own stories of not being good enough or unable to meet unspoken needs. Sure enough that person would always be the one to say, “that was exactly what I needed.” Offering yoga, of course, isn’t about being liked. It isn’t a popularity contest. Or a performance.
Offering yoga isn’t about me at all.
The more I can step out of the way and let spirit come through, the better.
The few forays I’ve had into creating meditation and yoga nidra recordings were strong heart-pulls to offer in a wider way. My Heart Connection album was the first attempt at creating something that could reach more people in an accessible way (provided people had access to the Internet). For me, it was a crucial first step in letting my voice be heard. To allow an opening to help others while also facing my own fear of criticism.
When I offer in that energetic co-creation in person or on Zoom, everything just flows. There’s just one take.
I like that there’s just one take. Whatever happens, happens. It’s spontaneous, intuitive, creative, and focused. It comes through my heart, my gut, my whole being. We all take what we need from it, incorporate, release, and move on. This affords me a chance to practice non-grasping.
To trust in the energetic imprint of class that remains and shifts as its own being.
To not look back.
My vibration changes as soon as there’s a microphone and the thought of an “audience”. Suddenly that flow is choppy and I record and edit until it feels “good enough” to release into the world. It’s different.
For these reasons, I’ve always chosen to not record my Zoom classes or to create online classes either. To me a class offering is meant to exist only in the moment.
This past week I got the chance to offer a class via Zoom through a studio. I didn’t realize until halfway through class that it was being recorded. I felt a moment of panic, then laughed internally at myself, immediately feeling grateful that I didn’t know ahead of time and continued with the class. Since I didn’t expect to do anything with the recording, I remained in that co-creative spirit. Class flowed. What came through was unplanned, inspired by the moment. It was authentic. Not forced.
When I looked at the video afterward I had a chance to see a reflection of myself I’ve never seen before and was shocked to feel love. My heart flooded over with love for that person who was just being herself. The person I’ve been so hard on so many times before and in so many ways. There was no measuring stick. No criticism. No pain. I had a chance to see myself doing something I love and standing in my truth. I had a chance to witness and accept myself fully without judgment. This is not something I have done before.
It was an unexpected gift.
I allowed myself to receive it.
Then, from this loving heart, I let myself share it too.