Her name, appropriately, was Grace.
She came two or three times to my yoga class at the university gym. A conundrum of drop in classes is that it’s impossible to plan a class sequence, and as a relatively newly minted teacher prone to anxiety, I managed my teaching anxiety by planning my class from start to finish. Sometimes this meant the sequence didn’t match the abilities or needs of the bodies in the room on a given day. This was one of those days.
My inner critic was chatty that evening. Observing Grace’s compact and tight body in one posture, it chided “this isn’t working for her. You won’t see her again” in a voice that clearly knew I’d screwed up.
The next week, she was first to arrive. She burst into the room.
“Teacher!” she said with enthusiasm. I had to mental moment of looking over my internal shoulder for this ‘teacher’ she was addressing. Who, me?!? Oh, yea, I’m the teacher.
“Teacher, I haven’t had a cigarette since class last week. I had to come and tell you and say thank you.”
I smiled. “Don’t thank me, Grace. I didn’t follow you around all week and take the butts out of your mouth. You did that. That’s great! Good for you!”
“I know but it was your class that showed me I could do it. So thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Congratulations.”
More confident in my teaching now, I still plan my classes – most days anyway – but more by choosing a theme, considering new ways to approach familiar postures or therapeutics appropriate to the season, like antidotes to shoveling. More and more, I trust my training to present a body balancing sequence. I trust my intuitive guidance. I trust the practice.
I can’t know what a student experiences in my class. I can’t judge from the outside what shifts internally. I do trust the body to shift the mind. I do trust these postures to balance our bodies and minds so spirit can flow freely. Grace-fully.