Yoga: Vulnerability and My Yoga Teacher

My yoga teacher, Dave Kidney, started off class on Wednesday sharing this story: I don't know if you've heard the news from this morning, but there was another violent incident at a school. The school is in my hometown in PA. This is my nephew's school. We've talked to him. He's fine. Many students are not. 

Dave was referring to the 22 students stabbed by Alex Hrbal at Franklin Regional High School outside Pittsburgh, PA.

Dave went on to share his wonderings about Alex, his brokeness and woundedness and how that's been inflicted upon others.

As Dave shared, he was on his yoga mat in front of the class, in a modified yoga squat. His head was turned towards the window, eyes fixed on nothing yet holding a deep, profound gaze. Dave's words were soft and gentle, even as he talked about Alex.

Dave invited us to set an intention for the class. This is typical at Tranquil Space. He offered the invitation to go beyond us--to his nephew, Franklin High School, and Alex.

Dave closed saying, again, his nephew was Ok. I wanted to call out from my mat in the way back of the room, with my eyes seeking to make a connection with his, "How are you?"

There are lots of unwritten rules when it comes to yoga classes:

  • Don't step on someone's yoga mat.
  • Avoid "cross talking" to your neighbor during class.
  • People generally don't ask questions (out loud!) about poses during a class.
  • Don't start chatting it up with your yoga teacher when he/she comes over to assist you. "Hey! Great earrings, Kimberly Wilson, where did you get those?"

Yoga invites vulnerability in my physical body yet the class itself is quite contained as far as extending that vulnerability "across the mat."

Dave infused vulnerability in his sharing and I felt it all the way at the other end of the room. Before Dave even sat down to share, he made small talk with people in the class. Checked in with someone on their injury. Greeted a new person. He was present and available.

This is quite different than another class I took earlier in the week. The yoga teacher came in just minutes prior to starting. Announced she would be teaching the class only a few more weeks (ok, she's checked out). Her assists felt like air brushing against me. These assists make me wonder, "are you committed to my body or not?" The tone of her voice throughout the class made me think, "are you bored? Do you even want to be here?"

Dave's sharing lasted a few minutes. He made a choice to share and release that story in order to send healing out of the room and to the traumatized community of Franklin. He made me realize, yet again, that there is more at stake doing yoga than me nailing crow pose to tripod headstand back to crow pose. The planet's well being is at stake. Our well beings are connected and yoga is one healing modality to "get at" that healing.

For my physical practice, it meant I trusted Dave more because I saw more of him through his sharing. When he came over to assist me, I gave him all of me, and I found myself in a twist practically staring up at the ceiling. In that moment, I was able to experience more of me.

Dave, I've been thinking about you all week. I hope your heart is well.