Monday, November 21, 2011

Yoga to Stretch Your Body, Stretch Your Mind

I encountered an interesting woman as I waited for my yoga class to start.  She asked me who the teacher was, although the schedule was posted right in front of us.  I first assumed that she was only asking as an icebreaker, but almost immediately after I told her the teacher's name, the woman began complaining.  She said she's a stay-at-home mom, so she needs to use her time wisely and wished that she had brought her sneakers so she wouldn't have to endure this class, which was going to be terrible.  

I guess my lousy poker face gave away that I was disturbed by her lack of respect for our teacher, so she began apologizing, but she continued to complain about why this teacher is substandard.  Her reasoning was that this teacher is new agey and weird, doesn't explain the meaning of some poses, and yoga is about so much more than stretching.  I agree with the woman's observations about teacher and yoga, but I don't think the teacher is bad.  I think Donna is a great teacher.

Just before entering the class, the woman urgently advised that I really needed to seek a new teacher before my love for this teacher poisoned me against liking any other teachers.  I thought the advice was fascinating, especially given that this woman's hate has poisoned her against this teacher.  I think is that this encounter was a great opportunity to see how self-cherishing, hatred and attachment can ruin our lives.

According to Buddhist beliefs, attachment is a cause of suffering.  Had this woman not been so concerned about hating our teacher and presenting herself as a yoga know-it-all, she might have reduced her own suffering for a minute and enjoyed the class. Our worldly attainments don't define us anyway, and I'm sure she's been my mother and I've been hers.  Anyway, I did try a new class, and the new class is also great.  I will keep going to Donna because I love her class, no matter what students say, but Sandy's class is a nice addition.

At the end of Donna's class, I tried to say goodbye to Ms. Stay-At-Home-Mom, but she had moved her mat to the front of the room and was showing off by doing advanced poses that weren't included in this basic class.  As I talked to her, she completely ignored me and did not even look in my direction.  Well, I believe that in order to get the maximum benefit from yoga you have to stretch your mind a little too.  Yoga isn't a contest about who's the best student or who's the best teacher.  It's about challenging yourself to be the best person you can be.  Buddhist beliefs or not, if you are focused on your emotional baggage, you probably aren't focused on your breath or your form.

I keep hoping to run into that woman at a future class, so that I can thank her for the referral to the new class. She must think I'm so stupid, but really, I just practice kindness toward others and toward myself.


Candace said...

I've taken a yoga class before. I totally agree you need to clear your mind of any outside influence so you can breathe and do yoga and leave there refreshed in mind and body.

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