Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Teacher in Front of an Empty Class

By Lauratri

I’m a teacher sat in front of an empty class.  Mat rolled out, incense burning, some Tonal Alchemy playing quietly through the decrepit laptop and awkward speakers I carry everywhere with me.  Cotton, red-dyed bag stretched at every corner and bearing holes from all the yoga/ayurveda paraphernalia I squeeze into it every morning, before heading off to Cowley for my 6.30 am start with other sweaty, dedicated practitioners.

In that darkened, humid space, facing each other, unseeingly, I feel a strong and grounding anchor.  The walls are sweating and we move upwards, and downwards, twisting and stretching, jumping and stepping, breathing and sighing, laughing sometimes…these movements and sounds creating a harmonious energy.  Friendships are being formed – comradery.

In that space, oxygen thinning, and temperatures ever-rising, I feel as if the world makes sense.  My insecurities and fears for my livelihood, my future – arise, and I feel them and greet them, and continue to move and breathe.  They fall away.

In that space, politely manoeuvering myself out-of-the-way of my neighbour’s outstretched leg, fumbling for my fingertips, spine popping, sensations of warmth in my muscles….I am feeling, always feeling, the steady rise and fall of my chest.

I’m sitting in front of this empty class, checking the clock on my phone, one minute past, and there’s all this space in front of me, and I focus on my breath, the rise and fall of my chest.  What’s there?  What am I feeling?

A little bit embarrassed.  No students may be better than one…there are no witnesses.  Words manifest like passing clouds.  Failure, rejection, disappointment.  Broken by rays of acceptance and peacefulness.  All is well.  They will come.  Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but in this space, I sit and wait.  Advice from a dear friend pipes up from somewhere.  If no-one’s there – teach anyway.  Stand up.  Teach as if there are students in front of you.  Teach at every opportunity.  They will come.

Five minutes past.  I hope the fellow teachers don’t peer through the curtain and see me standing there in front of an empty class.

I bring my hands up over my head, can still hear the breath of my comrades, their warmth, and support.  I look to my thumbs, and feel my ribs expand.  I describe how it feels, out loud, and I tilt from the waist and gently fold.

It wasn’t long before the buzzer went.  A student appeared, and I started again.  I smiled at her and let us face this vulnerability together.

I will be there at the front of the class, empty or otherwise, just as I dreamt I would be.  Watching those insecurities pass through me – I was steady, I was anchored.

I think back to when I started yoga.  The many classes I missed, the constant battle to get myself there.  The distractions and deterrents, obstacles and aversions.  I still feel them, I still face them and struggle with them every day.  But as my practice deepens, I find the benefits far outweigh the temptations.  With each year that passes (there have been a few now) I can see the fight is getting a little easier.

I asked myself that question again.  How do I feel as a teacher, sitting in front of an empty class?  I felt happy.  In some respects to simply hold that space feels enough.


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