Yesterday I got lost on my way to yoga. I’m in Chicago and finding the old warehouse-studio took me over the river and behind a steel works, past an abandoned sofa and through an empty lot of blooming weeds. When I arrived, sweaty but just on time, I was met with the news that the teacher was sick and there was a sub. I’d intentionally sought the teacher out because of her work with Erich Schiffmann, and the class was gentler than I otherwise would have taken. But I was there and not eager to immediately retrace my steps, so I unfurled a threadbare borrowed mat in the light-filled space and settled in.
I love doing yoga when I travel. Every time I enter a studio, I experience an easing in my being. It’s a feeling of coming home, of re-finding my tribe. Even when a class does not hit the mark, it is welcome.
And this one did not hit the mark – which turned out to be a mark of its own.
I very un-yogically filed these suggestions, which struck me as empty and even nonsensical, under “Dumb Shit Yoga Teachers Say.”
The substitute had a sing-songy rhythm to her instructions that cloyed. She kept sprinkling in phrases like, “Milk it!” and “Oxygenate your blood!” I very un-yogically filed these suggestions, which struck me as empty and even nonsensical, under “Dumb Shit Yoga Teachers Say.” I’ve no doubt that some of my students have the same reaction to phrases I unmindfully drop during class.
It was good for me to be out of my comfort zone — necessarily modifying my own practice while watching how other students responded to the cues, and also picking up small tips, such as a new way to enter a wide angled forward fold. Taking a less than stellar class was an opportunity for a great class. It provided a reminder that yoga is not only the very specific meal we create ourselves – one that becomes more and more specific as we grow as practitioners, until we know the exact shape and texture of each bite. Nor is it always that exquisite, just-right feast prepared by a master teacher. Yoga also includes Happy Meals, kale shakes, Kosher pastrami, 6-course French tasting menus and everything in between. The substitute teacher at yesterday’s class served up a beautiful reminder, fully worth the price of a meandering walk, a bucket of sweat, and some cash.