Since I first started practicing yoga four years ago, I’ve been fortunate to have a myriad of caring, cool teachers. I've practiced Yin, Hatha, Vinyasa, Baptise Power Flow, Kundalini, and even one (just one) class of Bikram.
While each instructor has brought his or her own unique style to the mat, I’ve found a pattern in the teaching styles of some of my favorite instructors. And because each class is far too short, and I know that yoga teachers are oh-so-busy, I’ve decided to address my gratitude in one, universal letter.
Ahem. Dear Yoga Teacher:
You have so much control when you said at the top of the classroom. I look at you and seek only guidance, so how you enter the room is how I tend to feel. Are you feeling goofy, excited, serious, spiritual, calm, sarcastic, or passionate? I will be too. Poses aside, the attitude you bring with you into the room is the one I will take on as I flow to your instruction. Thank you for creating such a nice vibe. I likely needed it that day.
I know, I know, I’m supposed to holding warrior two with great focus and finding my Drishti. But, oh, are those Teeki pants? I’ve never seen that pattern before. And that sassy saying on that cute tank? Where did you get that? Oops, we’re back to downward dog? My bad, here I come.
Please don’t be sad if one week, I’m there four days in a row and the next I’m only there once. Heck, you might not even notice, but I don't want you thinking I don't love you! I try really hard to make yoga a priority, but schedules change and sometimes I have to come in at weird hours or skip altogether. I so enjoy your classes and feel bummed when I can’t make them. Just know that. OK, I feel better now.
Yeah, yeah–I know I’m supposed to drop ego and all that jazz, but sometimes, it becomes really hard not to want to look awesome in front of you. I admire you, so I want you to be impressed with my focus, balance, strength, and dedication. I appreciate it when you say, “If you fall, that’s OK,” because it reminds me that all you want is for me to try.
So what if we just did the same leg twice? These little errors remind me that you’re human. I promise I won’t put you on a pedestal. And thank you for laughing it off, as the “go-with-the-flow” attitude is so contagious.
Do you remember the time you did class with essential oils, or when you added a little poem to the end of our session? Can I just say how wonderful that was? Adding even the smallest little treats to your class heightens the experience tenfold. It makes me feel special. Some of my favorite things have included a cool eucalyptus-scented towel post-savasana, a spritz of lavender oil, candles, incense, smudging, Rumi quotes, and that one time you actually brought a masseuse into class.
And on that note, I love when you mix it up. Blacklit Friday night flow? Soothing Yin with a brief history of yoga? Yes, please. Thank you for keeping our yoga classes so interesting.
Not to be a creeper, but adjustments are the bomb. Sometimes in a yoga class, my brain has its own agenda. I’m trying hard to “stay in the moment,” but for whatever reason, it’s just one of those days. But then you come over and place a soothing hand on my back. You press me further into a downward dog, an intense but worthwhile stretch that brings me back into the room. I promise you I’m not weirded out; I love every second of it.
At the end of class, I feel great, and I really want to thank you. I know you’re busy and wish to respect your boundaries, so I’ll settle for sending you good vibes with my “Namaste.” It’s in this moment that I truly wish to be present and make it known that the light in me recognizes and honors the light in you. I really, really want you to feel my gratitude.
I mean this literally and metaphorically. Before you, I couldn’t hold plank for more than a minute. I had a weak spine. I had low self-esteem and little self-awareness. But after I made your class part of my routine, all of that began to change. I became more confident and more willing to try new things.
When I stress in traffic, I remember your encouragement during a soothing Yin class and try to replicate those vibrations. As you lead me in a practice, I absorb some of your compassion, strength, and tranquility and subconsciously bring it into my own life. Thank you for helping me on the path to become the best version of myself.
Namaste, my yoga teacher. I truly mean it.
Photo by Jake Laub