Yoga to me as always been more about the mind, body, spirit connection than just about the poses. The physical benefits of yoga are countless of course, including strength and flexibility. But yoga has led me to something more than that-- a connection to myself. Yoga has helped me through some struggles in my personal life, by giving me a healthy connection to my body. It helps to calm my mind, allowing me to focus on what is truly important in my life. Yoga has shown me how to be more compassionate and caring to myself and to the world around me.
Many people come to yoga for the physical benefits, and miss out on the spirit/mind connection. Yoga to them is just a means to find a cool pose that they can strike for friends at parties, they use it to get a workout in and sweat a little, nothing changes in them; just the outside, just the body. And that's okay, because that is what they need from yoga. As a yoga teacher it is not for me to judge what people need when they step on their mat, it's my job to give them all I can during that hour or so class. But for me, it goes deeper.
As a new teacher, I have been slowly working on building my classes. Some days I'm only teaching to two or three people and some days I'm teaching to a packed room. I begin to wonder when I'm going to have a steady following, because let's face it, yoga is still a job for me. I still have to earn enough to pay my bills. Not that I'm teaching solely to earn a living. I decided to teach because what yoga has done for me—it was a gift I wanted to share with others. I want to be healthy, and inspire others to be healthy.
Last night, I found myself teaching to two people. About ten minutes into the class I saw a head poke into the door, so I walked over to greet the person. She asked me if this was yoga and could she join. This class was part of a registered series, and students pay up front. The studio usually doesn’t allow others to partake of these classes if they have not paid but I decided to let her in since the class was small. She had no mat, so I handed her one of the studios rental mats use. She quietly made her way to the back of the room, and set up.
I watched her throughout the class and her practice was so beautiful that it made me smile. I guessed her to be in her late sixties, which I found out she was. I wondered if she had a regular practice or had been a dancer at some point, because she moved gracefully from asana to asana never faltering or seeming lost in the flow of the class.
After class she approached me and thanked me for the class. She told me that my class was pure “magic” and she was happy that she had come. She went on to tell me that her husband had passed away a few years ago, and she still struggled without him. She told me that she often felt like she didn’t have a reason to keep on going, that she didn’t feel her life had purpose. She had been looking for and even prayed for something or someone that could make her feel like her younger self again. She told me after trying other teachers, that she knew in me was the gift she had asked for. She said she finally felt like her old self again, joyful, flexible and at peace. Of course, I told her what a huge compliment that was, thanked her, and welcomed her back anytime. She said she would certainly be back.
And this is why I teach yoga. I can teach you how to get into that pose you want to show off at parties for your friends, but hopefully I can also touch your life in a positive way. Maybe I'll sneak in a little spirituality without you knowing, but my main goal is to exercise your body, as well as exercise your mind, heart and soul. Even if I'm only teaching to one person, that is another person that I can touch in a positive way and hopefully create a shift in them, soften their hearts and calm their minds. That’s when my job as a teacher is truly done.
Christopher Roberts is registered with Yoga Alliance and based in Westborough, MA. He teaches mostly Vinyasa/Power Flow classes as well as Gentle and Prenatal Yoga and Beginner Mat Pilates classes. His classes are great for establishing a mind, body connection, as well as physical benefits such as strength, weight loss and more.
Website: Christopher Roberts Yoga