Looking Through the Yoga Lens

When I first started teaching yoga, I was so overwhelmed by every single class that I didn't even notice individual students. I realized that they were separate from one another, but I would not have recognized anyone outside of class. I was so clouded by my desperate need to get through the class without anyone running out screaming or falling down hysterically laughing. 

So, for the first few weeks, I never noticed the number of people in class. I secretly hoped it was small, so as not to embarrass myself too badly. One day, a few months in, I walked into class and realized that it was incredibly small: maybe four people. I felt like my other classes had been larger than this. My throat got tight, and I felt a slight blush sweep over my face: Maybe I can't do this? I had never considered that nobody would come to class—yoga classes always seemed to have people in them. My thoughts leapt to how I could fix the situation: I'll play Britney Spears, I'll make a super-fun sequence, I'll say really profound things. But I realized there was no guarantee that any of those things would work. 

I like to think that, at that moment, I paused and took a breath, like a good yoga teacher … but, honestly, I'm not sure what happened. I do remember that I looked out over those four people, and I instantly knew that there was not a thing I could do to control the situation. People would come and they would not come: classes would be big and small. 

The only thing that I knew I could do, every time I taught, was to show up with my authentic teaching on that day, in that class. I figured that, as long as I kept living my life, and having my experiences, and shining them through the yoga lens, I would have something to teach—and it would be real for me. 

It was a clear moment and, for the most, part, it has worked for me. I show up to class, honestly, always a little surprised that anyone comes, and teach from my recent life experiences. The result is that I have big and small classes, and I get to keep teaching this practice that I deeply adore.

Find out about upcoming programs with Kirsten Adelia Collins at Kripalu.

This post was originally published on Kirsten's website.

Kirsten Adelia Collins, LMSW, RYT, is a clinical therapist at the Beacon Program, a private practice in Manhattan dedicated to the treatment of eating disorders.

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