WHO’S YOUR TEACHER?
by Lisa Stowe
As yogis, we have many teachers, and not just the teaching staff that leads us through sun salutes. We are surrounded by teachers – our boss at work, our kids, the G train – the list goes on and on. Oftentimes we are asked to reflect upon our greatest teacher, and I’m ready to fess up to mine.
My greatest teacher is the prop closet.
As my close friends, family, colleagues, and basically anyone who has met me on more than one occasion can attest to, I am a bit of neat freak. My desk at work is free of piles of paper. The books on my kids’ bookshelf are arranged in order of height with all the spines facing out. When someone else folds my laundry, I will refold towels if they are not tri-folded in the way that allows them to fit perfectly in the vanity.
Keeping all this in mind, it is not surprising that I revert to kapalabati-lite breathing when I come upon a stack of blankets with the fringe edges exposed. Why I cringe as a “mat-alanche” threatens from the shelves. That I have been to known to remove all of the bolsters in an effort to restore the tetris-like stacking necessary to fit them all in the closet.
As we practice yoga, we are reminded that the real practice happens off the mat. While it is not always easy to exercise mindfulness and non-attachment on our mats, it is even harder to do so off the mat. For me, this challenge is all the more real when it confronts me, rolled up mat in hand, as I find myself cursing those who fold a blanket improperly or fail to coil up a strap. Didn’t I just finish class? Chant some Sanskrit wishing that everyone can be free from suffering? What about yoga am I not getting?
The answer: nothing. I’m not a bad yogi, but a real one. In the same way that we “lose” asana, sometimes we will lose it with something or someone in a non-mat circumstance in a very non-yogic way. The key is how we react when we do lose it: by embracing these teachers, we are truly able to practice and develop as yogis and as the individuals we aspire to become.
The next time I encounter that prop closet in disarray, I will try to practice non-attachment and just leave the bolsters alone. But I reserve the right to restack all of the blankets.
Lisa Stowe is a yogi, economist and mom who is as graceful with her arm balances as she is balancing budgets and juggling two young children. We’re thrilled that she’ll be writing the PRACTICE MAKES PRACTICE column while Sandra Bark is traveling for work.