We are members of a body, not only when we choose to be but in our whole existence. Every member serves the whole body, to its health or to its destruction. This is no mere theory; it’s a spiritual reality. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
The other day I had a pretty small class. I was tired, distracted as a squirrel, and running on auto-pilot. But, auto-pilot wasn’t going well for me. Each person in class was of a different decade, a different fitness level, and a different amount of experience with yoga.
I got crazy frustrated. I had to stop the class at one point because I was not thinking straight. I was so distracted by this voice, scratching it’s nails on the chalkboard of my brain, telling me that I need to designate classes with levels, ASAP! People need to know which class is appropriate for them, and which class is not!
I wrote a friend about it and in the writing of the email, recognized the huge blessing and burden of what has become Daily Bread Yoga. The blessing is that people of all ages, fitness levels, and experience with yoga are part of the classes. The burden is that people of all ages, fitness levels, and experience with yoga are part of the classes.
In the big picture; I love and cherish that reality. Close up; it is exhausting and I would like to organize everyone into their appropriate box. Can’t we all just compartmentalize, people?!
This fall I will offer a retreat and a 6 week series specifically for beginners. There will be plenty of opportunities for more advanced students to grow in their practice too. I think that there is great value in having classes for different levels of experience and expectation. Not everyone wants to have a vigorous class and not everyone wants a gentle class. But, I also believe that there is value in having a Make No Apologies-Come As You Are yoga class too.
But to have a class where everyone and their grandma is actually welcome requires that everyone – including the instructor – really shows up and “joins” the class. We each take responsibility for our own practice and in that encourage each other to do the same. We “stay on our own mat”; no comparing, judging, or assuming. It requires that we remember that we are all starting from somewhere unique and traveling together down a sometimes very bumpy, confusing path.
It’s a yoga class, or our family, or work, or neighborhood, or school. We are members of a body; of a community, whether we choose to be or not. It is very tempting for me to dart for the far back corner in a yoga class, make no eye contact with anyone, and be a completely isolated, anonymous soul for just an hour or two. I totally get that. But more often than not, I walk away feeling like I got totally jipped out of a class. I leave still feeling hungry for something. What I missed out on was half the reason I go to a yoga class at all – to be with YOU. I missed out on practicing with you, even when I don’t know your name. I miss out on the support, inspiration, and challenge I experience when I actually SHOW UP to a class full of people.
So, there it is. You are all welcome to come to class, and I mean it. It might get a little wacky sometimes, but it’s all good. I’ll be glad you’re there. It’ll make a huge difference. 🙂
The beginner’s retreat is tentatively set for Saturday, August 23rd, 9am-noon at Philo Presbyterian Church, in lovely Philo, IL. Everyone is welcome. For real. Even if you are super awesome at yoga – even you can come.
much peace on your head,