17 Aug 2012

A Letter to My Students

2 Comments thoughts

Dear Yogi,

We’ve known each other for a while now. Or maybe we just met this week. You’ve been coming to my class regularly for months. Or maybe you drop in from time to time when you can. Or maybe today was our first time to practice together. Whatever the circumstances, I get the pleasure of sharing yoga with you. But we don’t always have a lot of time to talk. You’re rushing in from your busy life, and I’m rushing out to mine, or there might be a class before or after mine that we have to clear out for. We don’t always get to connect in person. But there are some things I want you to know.

I think about you a lot. Whenever I see a new sequence in a class or a video, I wonder if you’ll like it. When I try a new pose in my own practice, I think about how I might break it down to teach it to you. I look up quotes on the internet hoping they will inspire you during those hard, sweaty moments. I wonder if you’ll come to class today, and if I haven’t seen you in a while, I wonder how you’re doing. You’re always in the back of my mind, and I’m always excited to see you again.

You inspire me. The fact that you show up to yoga, that you’re so courageous in the work that you do, rocks my world. When you tell me about books you’re reading, meditations you’re practicing, or retreats you’re going on, it inspires me to be a better, more devoted yogi, too. The quotes you share with me, the way you laugh at yourself when you fall out of a pose, the way you overcome your fear to try that freaky new arm balance—none of that goes unnoticed. I take your courage and excitement home with me, and it energizes me, too.

I believe in you. Those arm balances and inversions I talk you into? The ones where you look at me like I’m crazy for even suggesting it? I believe you can do them. I wouldn’t suggest them if I didn’t. In fact, I believe you’re so much stronger than you think you are. You’re a lot braver, too. You’re capable of so much, and it’s exciting to share those moments with you when you realize it, too.

It’s an honor to be a part of your life. The little conversations we have before and after class—the ones where you tell me about your break-up, your new job, how the tomatoes in your garden are growing—are an incredible honor. You let me into parts of your life and let me share your joy and pain. I’m humbled that you want to share those things with me.

I’m only human. I get nervous before class sometimes, wondering if you’ll like the sequence I have planned today. I stumble over my words and forget what we did from the right leg to the left. I’ve kicked over water bottles, walked into space heaters, and forgotten the names of the most common poses. Sometimes teaching is an exercise in being okay with looking like a fool. I hope you forgive me, and I hope my humanness helps give you permission to be human, too.

I’m thankful for you. Without you, I couldn’t do the thing I love to do most. Without you, there would be no class to teach. Without you, I wouldn’t be able to spend time every week in beautiful community with other yogis. I’m always so glad to see you walk in the door before class, and I’m so glad to get to share this yoga practice with you.

I pray for you. At the end of every class, while you’re resting in Savasana, I say a prayer for you. I pray that you will be peaceful and at ease, that your life will be full of joy and purpose, and that you will always feel full of gratitude. I don’t know for sure if it makes a difference in your life, but it seems like the least I can do, after all you’ve done for me.

When I became a yoga teacher, I had no idea how much it would fill my life up with amazing people. The yoga is life-changing, of course. But the people—the community that’s created around the yoga—for me, is the best part of all.

Thanks for coming.



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2 Responses to “A Letter to My Students”

  1. Theresa says:

    Wow. This letter has actually made me tear up a bit. I’ve never thought about class from this perspective and am so glad to have you as a teacher!

  2. Kerry Meon says:

    We love you to Melissa and are thankful to have your beautiful spirit in our lives.