I dropped the “f” bomb in yoga class just a few days ago. As the teacher, no less (student teacher, true, but still the person in the class who was leading that section and who was supposed to be all yogic and calm and in charge).
The scene of the crime: I had just confidently led the Surya Namaskara B and was moving into a warrior flow series when my lefts and rights got all mixed up. The faces in the room were looking at me with what can only be described as expectant confusion, so I moved to the side back of the room in hopes of regaining a sense of direction. Quickly, I realized I was awkwardly teetering on the edge of some poor man’s mat, and I had somehow wedged myself in the corner where nobody but that unfortunate man could see me properly. I scurried over his mat and into the center of the back of the room, forcing everyone to turn around, when I realized I had lost it, and the naughty, naughty word came sailing out of my mouth as smooth as my own name. I was mortified. As if I needed another reminder of my imperfections, my potty mouth decided to wreak havoc on the poor students who registered for an intro series class. Ok- admittedly, it wasn’t my mouth as much as it was me; I wreaked the havoc.
For all I know, people who had never taken a yoga class before now have some vision of me as some version of a long haul trucker in yoga pants. When they see me sitting serenely in the front of the class, they’ll likely have an unsettled feeling that I could lose it at any moment. And the really frightening thing is, I just might. I don’t know how much control I really have over this irresistible urge to break into a frenzy at any given moment. I’m like a bottle of Kombucha that’s just been on the Tilt-a-Whirl and is ready to explode in tangy elation. It’s downright petrifying.
Deep breath. I know this isn’t the entire truth. I realize that I have control over what comes out of my mouth. What upsets me most, actually, is not the fact that I cursed like a sailor in yoga class (as displeasing as that actuality is), but rather that I continue to play the story out as though it is the only one I have. As if I am actually this out of control beast ala Where the Wild Things Are instead of a complex and imperfectly perfect human being on this life journey (which is why I’ve always had an affinity for this particular children’s book).
I know intellectually that the very kind and intelligent people in this intro series class do not fear me or my cursing tendencies. I also know that these lovely individuals are most likely not replaying this scene over and over again in their minds and that they do not judge me or think that this way that I acted in class is the only way I act in the world. But this bumbling and awkward way that I acted in class is the way I often see myself. It’s the narrow view I’ve had of myself for much of my life, and it’s terrifying when I can see the mirror reflecting off of those faces onto myself.
The yogic philosophy that has been on my mind lately, and that relates so perfectly to this struggle, is the yama (observances and codes for living according to Patangali’s eight limbs of yoga) Aparigraha. Literally translated, Aparigraha means “not grasping”. In my own mind, Aparigraha stands for (among other things) the work that it takes to abandon control over images, ideas, labels, hopes, dreams, and expectations. It’s about taking that deep breath and realizing that this moment is just this moment, and I am just who I am in this moment. In other words- I can let go of the idea that I will always be awkward (though it kind of makes me sad to think of ever losing my potential for dorkiness for good). I don’t have to hold tightly to the expectation that this is who I am. So as an individual or, in this case, as a yoga teacher-in-training, I can every now and then curse or laugh or do something wildly inappropriate, and I can honor each as merely experiences and/or expressions of my humanness.