When I was a little girl, my mother once read me a story about a mom who would slip into her son’s bedroom at night and whisper her love for him. She did this at many ages throughout his life, and her words were always the same: “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. Forever and ever, my baby you’ll be.”
I’m not sure exactly when I started calling my teacher trainees my “babies.” But it started early and stuck hard, so that now when I see one of my graduates or current trainees, my first thought is “There’s one of my babies!”
And my babies you certainly are. I worry about you as I can only assume a mother worries about her children. I cry when you’re sad and hurting. I rejoice when you’re happy. I celebrate your accomplishments. When you doubt yourself, I ache with the desire to hold up a mirror to you and say, “Don’t you see? Don’t you see how perfect and beautiful and blindingly brilliant you are?” I wish you could see the light in yourself the way I see it.
And when you lay down in Savasana and rest, my heart feels so full of deeply powerful and tender love, I’m afraid it might burst all over my yoga mat.
It is a special honor to call you my babies because you chose me. And because you chose me to lead you on a journey based on something you love. You understanding the life-changing power of yoga for yourself and for other people. Nurturing you on this path is one of the greatest responsibilities and privileges of my life. I do not now nor will I ever take that responsibility lightly.
This year, I received the extraordinarily difficult news that it’s very likely I won’t ever be able to have children of my own. I’m not sure I’ll ever be done processing my sadness over this possibility. I will carry the grief of what will never be in my life for a long, long time.
But I have to believe that perhaps the reason I’m not meant to bear children is because I get to have you. Because I get to walk next to you for nine months and watch you grow and blossom and flourish. I get to bask in the glow of your milestones and revelations. I get to laugh when you laugh. I get to wonder at your curiosity and insight. I get to see the world through your eyes as you discover. I can’t imagine what else I could possibly ask for out of life.
When I first started teacher training, I worried that I might not connect with the new group each year the way I had with my first year. But I quickly learned the lesson of any parent of many children: Each new child brings with them a vast ocean of love. The parent’s heart only has to expand to incorporate it. This year my heart grew in size again as I came to know you and love you. Each and every one of you is extraordinarily special, and–in choosing me to lead you through this journey–you have blessed my life more than you could possibly know.
I hope that I have taught you many things this year, but just in case I haven’t, please take with you this one incredibly crucial lesson: It’s all going to be okay. Whatever it is, at any time. You will be so very, very okay.
There is so much pain in the world, especially right now. We live amongst so much division, anger, fear. The word yoga means to “unite,” and yoga teachers do the work of that uniting. Whether you choose to stand up and teach or simply let the beautiful gifts of your practice shine out and touch people’s hearts as you move through the world, you are so important, now more than ever. You are a miracle. You are necessary. You are loved. And if you ever need me to remind you of that, I will do so without hesitation.
My job now is to release you into the world, filled with love and pride for the extraordinary beings that you are, knowing what a difference you can and will make. Like any good mom, I will worry about you. I see the potential for aches and pains and bumps and bruises in your path. But my job now is to trust you to figure it out, not completely on your own, as I’m always just a text or phone call away.
Months ago, one of you asked me if I stay in touch with my trainees after they graduate. I had to laugh a little to myself and think, “Oh, you have no idea.” When I say you get me for life, I mean it. I’m here for you if you need me, and I always will be. I will always be happy to see you. I will always cry when you’re sad or hurting. I will always celebrate your successes. And I will always, always, always celebrate the divine light that resides within you and the power you have to make the world a better place.
I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. Forever and ever and ever, my babies you’ll be.
I love you, and I’m so proud of you.