Yoga. On and off the mat. Careful, this is a hippie post.
Everywhere. But today: Cologne, Germany.
"Thank you for making me fall in love with my body. Over and over again. Thank you for teaching me how to make love to that beautiful body of mine. And thank you for enabling me to see the beauty in every single one of my students, for making me fall for them, for their hearts, their individuality, their incredible, creative paths "
How did it react?
Inhaled. Exhaled. Looked back at me in the mirror through my own eyes, filled with affection and passion.
How did I feel?
A friend recently asked me if I had a shirt saying "Yoga is my boyfriend." She was fucking with me. Honestly- reading this post I have to say: Damn I should get that t-shirt. Straight away.
Look I know everyone does Yoga. I know there is a hype. Competitive students force themselves into poses. Lululemon emblems sparkle on hip leggings, tons of overpriced studios open every other week. The crowd follows some superstar teacher and everyone talks about everyone. I know, I know. And no, that's not what I am after. Not anymore. Sometimes, on hard days, I still force myself. Processes take time. That's fine.
Let me tell you a story.
It starts two weeks ago:
Exams freak me out. They switch on this perfectionist and as much as I try to relax I haven't figured out a way to calm this guy down. My favorite way of procrastinating is eating. I usually gain a couple of pounds during the exam period. Guess what the perfectionist says to that? He sure is not content. On top of that I am not a big fan of transitions (who is?) and I was not only facing exams but also about to move to another town for two months. Where I was going to live after that I didn't know. Actually I still don't. Maybe Berlin. Maybe Cologne. Maybe San Francisco. But- things have changed. Exams are over. I have moved. And, most importantly: I've started going to Yoga again.
The same day I'd lived through my last exam I went to a wonderful Yoga class in Cologne taught by Steffi. I arrived at the studio feeling stressed, tired. My eyes were cold. I didn't like what I saw in the mirror. Looking at my body I thought: This will have to change. Too much here, too much there. I was right, a change was needed. A change came. 1.5 hours of breathing, chanting and moving did the trick. It took a minute or two but at some point Steffi's voice had captivated me. She guided in her devotional way. I let go. And experienced:
My whole practice that day felt like making love to my own body. Every movement was delicious. My skin was a wonderful container for all these sweet sensations. Every sigh was a song, every vinyasa a dance, every breath a sip from a mountain spring. I was in love with everyone around me- including myself.
Afterwards I passed a mirror and caught a glance at my expression. I looked into two eyes, open, compassionate and hungry. I saw a beautiful creature with a strong body. Living in that body felt great. A person who loved me and who I love. Out on the street I wanted to hug strangers and dance hand in hand with them. I bought a box of cookies and asked people on the train if they wanted to have one. Because all I really wanted was to share. When someone said yes it was the happiest moment all week.
Today I had a realization: I love my job. Guess what, I teach Yoga. I don't know how many times I have had that realization before. A thousand?
It's always the same moment. It was back when I taught a friend for the very first time. Now that I've been teaching for years: Same story. Afterwards. When people open their eyes and they really do open them. They look at me and they really do look at me. They say thank you and it comes from deep down.
But most of all it's how I feel in that moment: I have gone through that transformational practice together with them. I have used my voice, my presence to build a frame that can fit us all in. What a gift! I open my eyes, too, and I see a bunch of incredibly beautiful beings in front of me. People who I love. I see their individuality, their creative paths during their physical practice. Their bright hearts shining through their light smiles. Their softness when they sing. I am so grateful for being surrounded by people who allow all this. They create that frame with me through their presence. Every tear of theirs is a present and the greatest compliment (wow, they really trust me as much!) so is every joke and every frustrated moment. I learn. Every time I teach. And I love: Every student who comes to my class. I know I am repeating myself. It's just- I can't stop writing all this. I makes me happy :)
How blessed am I to have the greatest job in the world?
No matter if there is a big Yoga scene or not. No matter if we sometimes force ourselves on and off the mat, want to be hip or really need that fancy new prop. No matter if my eyes look at me in that cold way sometimes- as long as there is a way of reconnecting with that incredible love and life inside of me, embracing myself and loving others it's all good. And it's all Yoga.
It's 1:25 AM. I am done writing this post. Now all I want to is teach a class :)
Yup. There is a great poem by Rilke which I have been reading to my German speaking students. Some of them came afterwards and asked for the title. I thought: If they like it as much maybe other people do, too...
So here it is. Enjoy:
Über die Geduld
(von Rainer Maria Rilke)
Man muss den Dingen
die eigene, stille
ungestörte Entwicklung lassen,
die tief von innen kommt
und durch nichts gedrängt
oder beschleunigt werden kann,
alles ist austragen – und
Reifen wie der Baum,
der seine Säfte nicht drängt
und getrost in den Stürmen des Frühlings steht,
dass dahinter kein Sommer
Er kommt doch!
Aber er kommt nur zu den Geduldigen,
die da sind, als ob die Ewigkeit
vor ihnen läge,
so sorglos, still und weit…
Man muss Geduld haben
Mit dem Ungelösten im Herzen,
und versuchen, die Fragen selber lieb zu haben,
wie verschlossene Stuben,
und wie Bücher, die in einer sehr fremden Sprache
Es handelt sich darum, alles zu leben.
Wenn man die Fragen lebt, lebt man vielleicht allmählich,
ohne es zu merken,
eines fremden Tages
in die Antworten hinein.