Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Empathy

Here is something I've been wanting to share since last week when I started up my practice again. I went to my regular advanced class and it was like I didn't miss a beat so I was feeling good. But that's not what I want to write about. There was a woman in the class who was visiting the studio for the first time. I noticed her right away because she was heavy set. Since I usually feel like I'm the biggest gal in the room, I always notice these things, I hate it but it's a hard habit to break. Not that I prejudge, I've seen big women with beautiful yoga practices so I didn't think too much about it until class started. She was having a hard time with some of the things we were doing and in my mind, I was feeling self-conscious for her!

I see this a lot, especially in this particular class. New people come in not realizing the level of the class is more than the website description leads on. I have been vocal about this a few times already but no change. Anyway, back to class, here comes Headstand time and she couldn't do it. The teacher just told her to rest her legs up against the wall and told her "When you take this class you're suppose to know how to do headstand already." It wasn't harsh in tone but not very gentle either. I felt worse for her. I don't know why I was feeling for this woman so much!

Afterward as we were all packing up, she spills her water on one of the bench cushions and she frantically tries to clean it up. I tell her not to worry, they'll just flip the cushion upsidedown, no one will notice. She looked at me and said "Thank you so much!" like I just helped her carry her bags up 5 flights of stairs. I just gave her a smile and left. I had a train to catch, but I wanted to stay and talk to her some more. Maybe she didn't care that she was out of her league, maybe she still enjoyed class and I'm making it a bigger deal than it was. Whatever the case, I doubt I will see her again when I take class tonight but I'll be sure to dedicate my practice to her.

9 comments:

femme hesse said...

I totally get where you're coming from...I don't do yoga, I would be the beginner not able to stand on her head, spilling water, the whole thing. I probably would have run out of there in tears if I were in her place. I'm sure you're empathy was a comfort to her.

Peace,
Susan

A said...

That's very kind of you to dedicate your practice to her. Karma yoga anyone? :-)

As for the teacher, that's not a comment that needed to be made then. She could've pulled her aside afterwards and explained the level of class that she had entered. No need to say it in front of all the other ppl. Maybe the teacher's trying to get her to come out of her shell and not willing to soften things for her, lest she run and hide behind her ego. But I think that you need to be gentle with the whole spiritual ego thing when a person's starting out. This girl could be strong and come back to a beginner's class or she could be totally turned off and never come back again. Anyway, reading what you wrote about the instructor kind of irked me (cantcha tell?). Just because someone takes 200 hours of teacher training doesn't mean they should be doing it. Of course, your teacher could be lovely, in which case I'd be happy to eat my words with a side of fries. :-)

miz_g said...

aww! bless you.

Vernette said...

so kind of you...I do hope she isn't turned off of yoga completely tho.

Gypsy Girl said...

Great post. I think you were very kind. We all should be so aware of other people and their feelings. That teacher was out of line. She could take a lesson on the true meaning of yoga. Empathy is part of yoga, especially for a yoga teacher!!!

The Barber Bunch said...

I love Yoga....and cupcakes too!!

Great Blog!

Carolyn

Anonymous said...

Isn't the point of going to a Yoga class to "learn" Yoga. If she was able to do a Headstand already, why go to the class in the first place? Anyway, I thought your post was lovely and I'm intrigued to know if she came back to class. Did she?

mariannah said...

you're a sweetheart!!....

She's a Crafty Bitch said...

Attitudes like that of the "teacher" in your story are what reinforce my decision to dvr episodes of Namaste Yoga from FitTV rather than try to take a class. I like my yoga without a side of humiliation. I'm glad you were nice to her!