Monday, February 11, 2008


I love new yoga students. I love sitting on my mat before class and spotting an unsure face enter the room, sometimes clutching a mat, sometimes looking for the studio mats, and always looking for a spot in the back of the room. Though I generally keep to myself in the studio, whenever I recognize a new student, I can’t help but say a few words to them after class. I’m just so enthused that they are there, taking their first step on a path I travel so often and love so well, that I can’t stop myself from encouraging them to keep coming, to work through the uncertainty and unfamiliarity that first characterizes anyone’s embarkation on this practice.

Before one of my classes last week, the too-attractive-for-her-own-good teacher approached me to let me know that the bulk of the students in that evening’s class were beginners and, apologies professed, she’d have to take it pretty slow and break poses down further than she generally does. She said that she wouldn’t at all be offended if I chose to skip her class that day and go to the 7:30 class instead. I was only to happy to stick it out through her class that evening; there’s something wonderful about a beginning yoga class, for it’s not often that I get to return to the roots of Downward-facing Dog and be reminded to spiral my thighs outward and distribute more weight into the space between my thumb and pointer finger.

After the class was through, one of the new students looked overwhelmed and fatigued. Of course I couldn’t keep my mouth shut—Keep coming, I said, It gets better! He nodded with a shaky laugh, and I hope to see him this next Thursday wobbling in Anjaneyasana and reaping benefits he has yet to discover. What I neglected to tell him is what type of “better” I meant. No, it doesn’t get easier. In fact, my practice now is most definitely more physically challenging than it was two or three years ago, that happens as awareness increases. The “better” I mentioned to the new student referenced the feeling of accomplishment that comes after class and the confidence you cultivate during class. That part gets better, stronger, and is what will continually drive him back to his mat—if he keeps coming. And I so hope he does. Maybe one day he will see students that resembled him years ago when he first started practicing and encourage them in the same way I feel compelled to do now. Namaste, my friend. Namaste.


Ashley Thalman said...

it is a difficult thing to encourage people to keep facing forward on something that they could so easily walk away from. doing is the only way to satisfaction. you are a great example of that!

Lynley said...

You are so nice to be nice to people on they're first day! I swear I'm always the new girl in every situation!

Mal Robin said...

I dig you.