I’ve always felt a bit awkward around my yoga teachers. For a long time, I tried to justify it by telling myself that I’m just shy, I’m introverted, I come to yoga to be internal and so to interact at yoga is difficult. But as I’ve continued to attend yoga, I’ve peeled away some layers and found a deeper truth.
Cut to today’s yoga class: my favorite teacher leads us through an amazing flow. I’ve been missing his classes as he’s been away and then I’ve been away, and the studio that we take classes at is closing so the end is a bit more emotional than normal.
I don’t normally hug my yoga teachers – again, I’m awkward – but today felt like the day to hug. So I reach out to embrace my teacher, and he pulls me in for a BIG hug. One I’m not perhaps mentally prepared for. As we embrace, our chests meld together, and he say, “Let’s have a heart to heart connection.”
It was like my system went into shock. It was touching and sweet and precious. I felt a bit giddy.
But I couldn’t return the sentiment.
So I left wondering why I am so darn awkward. And this is what I’ve come up with:
Real yoga bursts your heart open. Real yoga makes you vulnerable. Real yoga brings out the ultimate truth and the divinity within each of us, and connecting to that space can ultimately bring about a bit of fear.
Fear, you ask? But why?
Because it’s unusual, it’s unknown, because, if you’re like me, you’ve spent 26 years of your life shutting your heart down, closing it up, locking tight all your deepest emotions. Because maybe you grew up in a family where crying was punishable, where emotions were laughable, where you felt uncomfortable being you.
So yeah, maybe you’re just feeling vulnerable. You’re testing out new emotions, new feelings, and you’re figuring out how to show up in the world with an open heart. And that yoga teacher that you love and admire – well, you don’t want to disappoint him by saying something weird or doing the wrong thing.
Only, the thing is, when you show up from your heart, when you allow your vulnerability to shine above your fear, you’ll never disappoint. Any ridiculing of your emotions are a product of the ridiculers fear, not your own inadequacy.
So this is how I know I have lots of work to do to be more fully me. I’m on my way, but I need to keep moving forth. To my yoga teacher: thank you. I could never express in words how much your classes or that hug or your words meant to me.
One day, I hope to be a yoga teacher who does the same for others – breaks their heart wide open, exposes their truth beneath their shield, and let’s them soar.