“I don’t like the music,” she croaked.
People are so funny about their yoga.
So many demands, so many opinions.
And I can't blame them.
I am the exact same way.
I am the exact same way.
It's like once we know what we like, we want every single class to meet our pretty little laced-up standards- nothing more, nothing less. We create formulas around this stuff and base our teacher/studio score card accordingly. This much stretching, this much talking, this much alignment correction, this much background music played at this particular time and only this kind of music and at this exact volume level. Oh, and I want a cool lavender towel at the end, please.
Multiply this by 20 and that's a yoga class for you.
Welcome to teaching yoga in America.
But none of these high standards are said out loud, most of the time. So I couldn't help but laugh a little bit in my head when this woman expressed her yoga rules to me. I don't know, I felt an odd connection to her in a way, because of her honesty about it all. The rules no one else says but everyone thinks in class, especially when they are regulars.
Our expectations are heavy.
And I think there is an underlying fear beneath some of that.
That no one will ever quite please us in the way we want.
That we will never be received in the way we want to be received.
Never fully understood.
What is that?
I think more than anything, it speaks to this deep human need: the need to be heard, seen, and even experienced in all the right ways.
It's an instinctive cry to the deepest canyons of the earth. "SEE ME! I AM HERE. And I DESERVE to be seen." Therefore, I have standards- in how you teach me, look at me, talk to me, notice me, listen to me, and even think about me.
So maybe other teachers might have called this woman high-maintenance, but I understood her.
And I could relate.
I walked in to the studio room a few minutes before class to check the heat and the status of the room and she was whispering to another student about my teaching practices, to make sure I was the right fit.
"I am picky about my teachers," she smiled back at me when I accidentally walked into their conversation. (But really, they stood right by the door, in the perfect space to be interrupted, so I didn't apologize).
“You should be picky about your teacher,” I encouraged her. “That’s how I am when I practice.”
And I was serious. Sometimes I am too picky about those things. When it really is just yoga and I really am just a human on my mat, seeking authentic connection with my breath.
Even in the simple things, we have such high expectations.
This woman's eyes are a deep hazel brown. Whisker-like wrinkles outline the outside of her eyes, the kind that invite you in with caution, once she liked you, of course. And that took time, I could tell.
I watched the woman lay down her mat with meticulous care, in a protective way, like a mother setting her newborn baby down in her crib. I could tell this woman wanted to trust me. But she hadn't quite figured me out yet, and she didn't know how to, really.
I could feel the questions swirling around her, almost bumping into each other, like bumper cars at the county fair.
Is she safe?
Is she correct?
Is she modern?
And at what level?
Where did she get her training?
And what kind of training?
Is she going to force me to do something I don't want to?
How strict is she?
After class, I spoke with her a bit more and she smiled at me and her eyes smiled too. And I heard an accent in her voice, one that I couldn’t quite name but was drawn to.
"I had to skip some of the postures and lie down, but that's good too, right?" she asked, already knowing the answer, almost testing me, it seemed. But she seemed at ease, more comfortable with me now.
"Yes, definitely," I said back with a bit of caution, but this time, knowing she liked me too, at least a little. And I felt my shoulders sit a little deeper instead of hunching near my ears where they don't belong but where they sneakily climb to when I am uncomfortable. With the same happy eyes, thankful for this closer connection to this beautiful, wise teacher, I affirmed. "Yes, you needed that."
And her smile got bigger, her eyes more glittery.
She left with her shoes in her hand and the light followed her out.
What a sweet woman.
Life's greatest teacher.
Opinions and all.