After playing an intense bought of Ultimate Frisbee, walking the slack-line became tricky. It felt so good to run and play, but my muscles were pooped. It was a rest-day (no climbing allowed) but it’s hard to sit still when there are so many fun and active people to play with. I settled down atop of my bouldering mat to breathe and stretch my warm muscles. I wrapped myself in a fleece blanket and closed my eyes.
I’m getting used to practicing yoga with people milling about. I guess I have to – seeing as I live in a campground. It’s surprisingly easy to sit still with a multitude of sounds vying for my attention. It’s even getting easier to keep my eyes closed when I feel someone staring at me. I spend most of my meditation practice reminding myself to let go of the observing critic. However, rather than sinking deeper into my practice, I hover near the surface. And so it was, here in the park, under the tree that I felt her. Behind my closed lids I sensed that she was watching me. I wondered if she was offended by what she saw. For the first time, I contemplated whether she was threatened by my stillness.
I opened my eyes to find an inquisitive pair staring back at me. She looked away eventually, both of us turning inward awkwardly. Yet, in that moment when our eyes connected, we entered a shared space. I knew that we would be yogaing together.
I closed my eyes again and moved further inward. Now on my hands and knees, I flowed between cat and cow. I sighed as I melted into the corners and edges of my body. At home in my skin, my awkwardness dissolved. I looked forward and sent a warm smile to the still-staring Ma-Lou. She accepted my silent invitation and walked over.
Martha-Lucia (Ma-Lou for short) was very interested in trying yoga. I made a seat for her across from me and we began by breathing together. We made our way to Mountain Pose, facing the Sierras which were turning pink under the setting sun. We swung our arms and torsos to warm up. I love starting with a floppy twist, it releases tension and seriousness from my body and face. Feeling joyful and relaxed, we saluted the glorious sun.
I don’t claim to know a lot about yoga; in fact, the more I learn the more I discover that there is so much more to learn. In my humblest moments, I believe that I’m not experienced enough to teach this ancient practice. And yet, I love to teach.
I knew it would happen. A few days earlier I envisioned teaching yoga in the park. I had no students and no plan, but it came together that night. Ma-Lou approached me and I welcomed the opportunity to share with her. Teaching became an extension of my practice. I was just as much a student as I was a teacher.
Ma-Lou taught me to remain present as I teach. Technically speaking, I was unprepared. I didn’t spend a copious amount of time planning and fretting what I would teach. I created my lesson plan by listening to Ma-Lou’s body. I shared what I knew with patience and intention, and that was more than enough.