This week one of my students passed away. It was unexpected.. although when I work with populations with major health challenges I suppose a death should not be totally surprising. But it surprised me… I had wondered if she was okay after missing a few weeks of class but people come and go all the time. Sometimes yoga just doesn’t fit in. I truly appreciate that when people do show up it is because they want to be there.
As a grieve the loss of her life I am learning once more from those who attend yoga sessions with me. Me and this woman were not close nor am I unaccustomed to loss and death. But there is an odd relationship that builds between a yoga instructor/yoga practitioner that becomes strangely intimate while at the same time being very casual and light. People come to my classes and I don’t really know them at all. We might get a few minutes to chat after class but often I know little about their lives. However there is an incredible amount of trust that I feel people who attend classes share with me. They allow themselves to be vulnerable, especially if they are students who are working with trauma and/or major health issues. This takes a huge amount of bravery. I always feel incredibly touched that they are willing to participate and share their experiences in such a public setting.
In classes where people deal with more complex issues in their bodies I tend to watch students a little closer, making sure that they are okay (as best as I can) and changing the pace of the class if I feel people are struggling. As I watch people move in their bodies I see conditioning, blocks, fears, openings.. I see how people push their bodies and how hard they can be on themselves. I learn about myself. I can have no end of sympathy for others.. seeing that we need to approach ourselves with the love we would give a child. But it is more difficult to do this when your are working with your own body, your own demons, your own feelings of failure or inadequacy. I really feel an immense amount of knowledge is passed onto me just by having people come to my class. I am reminded again and again about my own patterns. I am reminded to be gentle with myself as well as with those around me.