You know that idea that yogis are supposed to be serene and unflappable? That we meet everything with a peaceful “yogi smile” on our faces? Does it drive you crazy because that’s soooo not happening for you? I’ve come to two realizations about this:
1. Almost no one is always like that, it comes and goes, and
2. It’s a lot of work. Good work, but still, work.
I have definitely restrained myself from flipping the bird in traffic on the way to yoga, been pissed because there was a sub for my favorite teacher, and contemplated leaving when a fellow yogi I have a strange and unfounded aversion to set up near me. I am sure I did not have the yogi smile on. But. . . I stayed. And I think I might have had the yogi smile when I left, at least for five minutes or so.
We end class with namaste, which some teachers translate as “the goodness in me honors the goodness in you.” Like almost anything in sanskrit, there are various nuanced translations, and we just don’t have the same idea in our language and culture, so it’s not quite right, but it gets you there. It is also used sort of like “aloha!” in India, to greet and to part. It’s a great word! When we say it at the end of class, it’s true! I have never once gotten to the end of a yoga class and not felt like namaste rang true.
So it gets me to thinking— how does this work? I am not always (or even usually) in deep contemplation during class. I am sometimes super-distracted— the brain ticker-tape is going something like this: whatamimakingfordinner? didwerunoutofwine? ithinkiforgottohitsend. shouldistopattraderjoe’s?. Sometimes the teacher gives us a focal point— the “word of the day” in yogahour parlance, that feels good. Sometime’s I’ve forgotten it right away. Some days, my mind is empty and off— blissfully, I am just listening and moving, feeling like the proverbial empty vessel. Doesn’t matter— I still get to namaste. Is it the stretching and breathing in a special space? Is it other people doing the same thing? I don’t know. Maybe it’s magic. Maybe it’s just yoga. But I never flip anyone the bird on the way home, so. . . Namaste!