My favorite student is not one that came into the studio and knew everything right off the bat. They did not have a smug smile as they entered the building, thinking, “I am going to rock this class, people!” They looked nervous and intimidated and wondered what in the heck they just signed up for.
My favorite students do not come equipped with the fanciest yoga clothes, but take their first few weeks of classes dressed in what they already own, whether it be running shorts or an old pair of capris or a favorite tank top they always wore to the gym. Months, maybe years later, they daringly purchase something that can only be worn at a yoga studio, investing in their practice with a carefree glee, that they might actually be what people call a, “yogi.”
My favorite students hate me at first. They think I am too loud and hold the postures too long. They think I am something to be tolerated, much like the heat in the yoga room. They don’t know that I see them in my mind’s eye a year from now, happier and healthier than they have ever been and that every time I correct them or push them, I am simply walking them closer to their goals, whatever they may be.
My favorite students hide in the back row for awhile, not knowing that I can see them better than I can see the students that insist on pulling their mat as close to the mirror and the podium as possible. There is no place to hide. These students hang in the back, doing their best to keep up and then one day they pull the mat a little closer to the front and then, eventually, a little closer than that, because they finally want to get a better look at themselves, at their own practice, so they can notice the changes that are starting to happen for them.
My favorite students skate in the door at the last second and then pop up and grab their stuff, moving on to the next thing as quickly as possible when they first start their practice. Over time they arrive earlier and earlier and leave later and later, wanting to stay in Savasana before and after class and spend time with their own thoughts, or chat with the teachers and the other students that they practice with day after day. They are part of the community and want to share time with everyone else involved, including themselves.
My favorite students are embarrassed when I tell them how wonderful their practice looked on a certain day and shake their heads in disbelief, thinking I’m an absolute nutcase and that I obviously confused them with someone else. Then one day I tell them how great they are doing and they nod, flash me a huge smile and say, “Thanks! I had a great class!”
My favorite students show up for a class, not for a journey, but years later look back and see how much they’ve traveled in the 2’x7’ space that comprises their yoga mat. They might have shown up because they heard the yoga can help with their injuries, can help with their anxiety, or can help with them achieve a yoga butt, but they now know that the yoga can do much more than that. They now know you simply have to get on the mat, day after day, and try.
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