by Yoga Bodhi Bliss
Leading a yoga class Monday night, I had the students performing standing side-moon pose (parsva chandrasana). I invited, “On your next inhalation elevate your arms slightly higher, and on your exhalation lengthen from your waist and release into a deeper side bend.” One student in particular held my gaze. He took a breath and raised his arms strong and deliberate, and as he exhaled he extended through his torso and relaxed deeply into the pose with purpose, his face radiating triumph. I was touched by his proud, pleased expression and smiling eyes. It was the look of achievement. While it was apparent to me that he could have accomplished this all along, on his own and without my instruction, I was immediately struck by the realization that a teacher wields enormous power over her/his willing students. Teachers have the power to lead willing students toward accomplishments they would otherwise not undertake by their own volition. A teacher’s power is natural and great.
I love the notion that everyone is our teacher and that we learn when our hearts and minds are open to receive the knowledge being presented (gifted) to us. Why is everyone our teacher? Because we are perpetual students by nature, driven by curiosity and an innate need to understand the world and our place in it. We are students and we are also teachers, driven by our need to create, collaborate and contribute.
In my role as his yoga teacher Monday night he, my student, followed my direction and, without hesitation, took a breath and moved mindfully in the direction I asked him to, accomplishing something new to him, something he would not have done on his own. I was part of his success, both as his teacher and as his student. In that brief, fleeting moment he didn’t question me or himself, and neither did I.
What if we realized that we were our own best teacher? What if during each and every moment of the day we lead ourselves, our practice, in a deeper, more thoughtful and faithful direction? What if I taught myself, as my student, that I could accomplish anything and everything I wanted to do? And what if I listened?