The Letting Go

There’s plenty of letting go in yoga. It’s called aparigraha —  letting go of old habits, restrictive thoughts, material attachments, expectations and results. Even people. Letting go is never easy, but it’s particularly hard when you’re letting go of a community of people that you’ve grown with and really come to love.

Today, I taught my last yoga class at the gym where I’ve been teaching for more than four years. With the exception of a little break in my voice during my final namaste, I managed to do so dry-eyed, until I got into the car and it hit me how much I’ll miss my students.

There’s Mathilde, who rushed in to be my surrogate mother when my own mom died. There’s Irene, who called to check on me during my most difficult times. There’s Marcos, whose enthusiasm and enjoyment of yoga made teaching a pure pleasure. There’s Jocelyn, the superstar who was a real inspiration to me. There was Clarence, who became my technical glitch-fixer, and Nancy, who mastered the poses with ease and grace.

There was Yong, who liked class enough to start bringing nearly her entire family, and Lee, a yoga natural who has great taste in coffee. There was Catherine, whose gorgeous smile always somehow had the magical effect of making me feel happy despite any hidden turmoil in my life, and the ever graceful Elizabeth, and Judy, whose elegance I couldn’t help but to step back and admire.

There was Dave, who appreciated my crazy “cocktail poses” and didn’t laugh too hard when I brought in the “Moving Men” disks for him to work with, and Eugene, who will very soon, I’m convinced, get into headstand with both legs floating up at once. And there was Erika, who I had many laughs with, few of which I can share in a G-rated setting, but none of which I will forget.

There was Yoshiko, who became a friend both on and off the mat, along with Susan, who generously loaned me the use of her West Virginia cabin when I had a writing deadline to meet.

And those are just to name a few. Through the years, these students didn’t hold it against me that I CONSTANTLY confused my left and right sides; that I often forgot names of things like the wriggly parts at the ends of your hand (Um, yep. Fingers. Exactly); that my sense of time was faulty enough that we often went about fifteen minutes overtime; that I sometimes spent a good five minutes instructing on how to stand; that I often — perhaps too often — referred to the pelvic floor, and occasionally used the awkward word, “buttock.” (Sorry, guys, on both accounts!). They never held it against me that the room was often too dark, or too cold, or too hot, which it often was.

Some didn’t speak my language. Some had never done yoga before. Some came only because Zumba was cancelled, but ended up becoming yogis. Some were senior citizens who were brave enough to give me a shot. But they were all so generous with their kindness. And they all made me feel incredibly appreciated. I only hope that I made them feel somewhat the same. Because for four years, they made my life better. More fun, more interesting, and more meaningful. Teaching this class, even just sharing time with these wonderful people, was an actual honor.

It’s hard not to get attached, especially when you meet people who seem so irreplaceable. So maybe I’ve overstepped the yama of aparigraha, just a little bit, simply because I would hoard my students if I could — I wish I could take them all with me to the west coast, where we could do fun, pretzely things all day, and sometimes just sit around and breathe, and then practice all sorts of gravity-defying Cirque de Soleil stunts, and come up with fun substitutes for words like “pelvic floor” and “buttock” that don’t make us cringe. But I can’t. So I’ll stay on the yogic side and try my best to let go.

It won’t be easy. But then, I guess, neither is side crow. (And hey, guys, if that ever is, I’ve got some more tricks for you! Just ask Jocelyn!)

Bye, guys. I’ll miss you — almost to illegal standards (those yamas and niyamas can be harsh!) Keep practicing, and don’t forget me, and let’s please keep in touch.