Admit it: there are some people who, no matter how hard you try or how open-minded you stay, you simply cannot see eye-to-eye with. Conversely, sometimes you meet a person and just instantly feel a connection. That’s just the way human interaction is; some personalities mesh nicely together, and some jar against each other and just don’t work.
Obviously, I am not saying this is your free pass to be an asshole to the people you don’t agree with. There’s never a free pass for that – you don’t get to just say “but we’re never going to get along anyway, why bother?”. Everyone deserves the same kindness and respect, regardless of how you feel about them.
Having said that, there are going to be people who you may never get along with, and that’s perfectly okay. You don’t have to go around loving the crap out of every single person.
As much as we tend to put our yoga teachers on a pedestal, with their calm spirit and yogic wisdom, they’re just human. And the same hit or miss connection occurs with them, in a yoga studio, as it does in any other human interaction. Go to enough yoga classes, and you’ll notice which classes, and specific teachers, you’re drawn to.
The type of yoga and the style of teaching influence your preferences, of course, but I think a third factor which plays a huge role is personality. A teacher you really feel a connection with can make a yoga class feel like a whole spiritual experience, improving your mental wellbeing as well as the physical.
I started thinking about this after a recent yoga class. I always look forward to Wednesday night yoga. I’ve been practicing with the teacher, A, for years now, and I always leave her classes with a happy heart. I don’t know if we’ve ever had an outside-the-yoga-world conversation, yet I feel like she is one of my nearest, dearest friends. That’s the magic of yoga.
How? I tried to analyze what exactly was different about the way A leads a yoga class. For starters, she doesn’t put on any fancy airs – no fake, calm, yoga teacher voice, no wooey-wooey figurative language that leaves you wondering what exactly you were just supposed to do with your foot. She sometimes shares personal anecdotes with us before or during class. A’s classes are often punctuated with laughter, or (rarely, but it’s happened) a little curse word. Simply put, it doesn’t feel like a serious, oh-so-spiritual, precocious yoga class that is so often the stereotype. It doesn’t feel like a class at all; more like hanging out with an old friend, doing some stretches, getting in a little bit of a workout. I leave feeling genuinely better in every way.
I want that authenticity and connection in my own classes I teach. I’d love to have that influence on my students, to make them feel the magic and love of yoga. As someone who was shy as a kid, and terribly awkward as an adult, it’s proving to be challenging. But as time goes by, I can feel myself improving. I’ve come to have regular students each week, and I’m beginning to feel more comfortable in front of them. I remind myself that, relatively, I’m still quite a newbie at teaching, and given time, I’ll get there. Experience, and practice, and the wonderful yogi role models I have will help me find the yoga teacher I want to become. Hopefully, someday, I’ll be teaching classes that no longer feel like just classes, and have students that feel like dear friends.