All the regulars were sitting on their mats waiting for class to start. Some chatted with their neighbors on adjacent mats, while others quietly stretched. Then, a woman walked to the front of the studio. In a quiet voice, she introduced herself as the substitute yoga teacher.
A hush fell over the class as people strained to hear what she was saying. Her voice was faint and nervous. She mumbled an inspirational quote and started in on a seated flow. A couple of people got up and left right then and there. As the class progressed, a few more people left… But I stayed.
It felt awkward at first, and the poses seemed hard. Yes, she was obviously new to teaching yoga. Yes, her cues weren’t as smooth or practiced. Yes, her poses were different and unfamiliar. And yet, there’s value in experiencing yoga through a different lens. There’s value in doing something outside of what you expected (and what is expected of you).
That day, I learned an interesting gratitude flow. I sat with my shins tucked under my thighs for what seemed like a really long time, which was challenging for me but rewarding to have gotten through. I witnessed a new teacher trying to navigate yoga cues for movements she likely takes for granted and thought about how I would approach the same situation (I’ve always wanted to do a yoga teacher training and still hope to someday).
It’s a metaphor for life. Do you gravitate towards always doing the same things? Do you walk that well-grooved path through your days? We all fall into routines, but it’s shaking those routines up where we can find some growth. I’m sure that some of the people who left that yoga class did so because they weren’t sure they’d achieve the mental “workout” they anticipated getting that day. And some probably left to find the physical workout they were craving elsewhere in the gym. Maybe they fled to their trusty treadmill or another machine. I’d argue that in both instances, staying with those uncomfortable feelings – an unfamiliar teacher and unfamiliar poses – would have provided a more beneficial experience than they ended up with.
Sitting with the uncomfortable, the uncertain, is against our nature as humans. But next time it happens, try staying. See what you can learn.