Many years ago, before I began teaching yoga myself, I remember taking class with a teacher on a regular basis, who I also became friendly with. One day after a particularly great practice she asked me if I enjoyed her class.
“I love your classes. That’s why I come two or three times a week.”
“Well, I can’t tell from the way you look—you always seem like you’re miserable.”
“I think that’s called working hard.”
Looking back it was possible that I was working too hard and maybe I have a more serene countenance when practicing these days. I got a taste of what she was talking about soon after I began teaching yoga and to say the least it is an interesting experience. Even now after teaching yoga for fifteen years I can still get stuck in a similar pattern where I look at people and begin an internal dialogue about how they dislike the class and they’re just having a miserable time.
Yesterday teaching in the city I had one of those moments where one person in particular seemed bored and unhappy, not that it throws me off my game, but it’s a curious feeling when you actually look at someone and think that they would rather be somewhere else.
After class ended and I was putting my shoes on this student came and sat next to me and said:
“That was such a great class. Thanks so much. It was slow but steady and hard. Just what I needed.”
It was really fun to hear and took me back to that previous dialogue. There are so many lessons for a yoga teacher to learn and the fact that we are profoundly human is one of them—we never get too old for insecurity (at least I don’t). Cultivating detachment from expectations, both my own and those of the students, is among the many wonderful lessons to nurture on the road of teaching.