Hug a dog

I’m a person and I have flaws.

A ton of em.

But, when I’m teaching, I try to put it all aside and focus on the needs of my students. After my class yesterday, a rather good one I thought, I quickly came out of teacher mode and became frustrated because the recording of the class didn’t work. I didn’t ride the bliss of teaching a class, I catapulted myself into a place of distress because something I tried, didn’t succeed.

Has that ever happened to you?

I’m not very good with technology and I’m just getting used to recording my classes and posting them on the wonderful site, where one can download delicious classes from some of the best teachers in LA and beyond. I’m so happy to be one of the teachers on the site…if I could only get the darn classes to record.

In an instant of feeling failure I had lost my yoga, my mind and my cool. And I did it in front of some of my favorite people, my students. I didn’t start screaming and waving my arms about but I was clearly upset and breaking down cerebrally at the loss of my work.

Thank goodness my display was in front of a couple of students who know me well, but I was still unhappy with my reaction and letting those I care about ‘see me sweat’ and not in the down dog sense of the phrase.

This is something many people face as soon as they leave the yoga room and venture out into the world outside the studio. Heck, I see it in the studio if a student is struggling with a pose.
But when the practice is done, often, it’s on to the next task. How do we keep the peace we created in a room and carry into life?
Well, ask any yoga teacher and the good ones will tell you that they are still trying to figure that one out themselves. Then they might pontificate on sutras, quote the Pradipika or Gita. I wish I could retain all of the knowledge I learned in the yoga classroom when studying to be a teacher. I try, but the best thing I can use when teaching is living, the experiences I have outside of the room and bring it into the room so we can bring it into real life. I’m clearly still working on that myself. So I guess it’s ironic that I was in the room I was teaching in and challenged with an outside of the studio problem. We are all victims of the day and age where multi-tasking is necessary and advancements in technology and communication keep us engaged and oversaturated. It’s easy or gets easier once you begin a practice of yoga to start letting the little stuff go in life. It does. You should have seen me when I was in NYC, working in an office, chain smoking and drinking every night but still running marathons. I’ve come a long way but there is a long way to go.
Sometimes, the little stuff pile up.
The only thing that helps is taking things in as moments, the same moments you take to come into your breath and body, begin asana and your physical and mental meditation practice. To take that moment that can just as easily take you down the dark and dirty path to negativity is the same moment that, once acknowledged can lead you to a place of clarity and for what might just be, an inconvenient challenge of sorts, test or set back. Keep your system in a state of balance and not of reaction. Ok, so I didn’t take that moment and I went a little down the negative path.

So keep practicing. I say to you and myself.

Having said that, I arrived at Liberation Yoga an hour before class. One of the students, now teachers at Liberation was hanging the new art display on the walls lining the studio hallways. Quinn has been the curator of this ever changing and eclectic display since Liberation came into existence several years ago. She has always been an inspiring yogi, but today, her display took the cake. Upon the walls, hung worn out yoga mats, tired and touched with love, sweat, tears, joy, pain, happiness and bliss. Atop those mats were painted moving words and phrases inspired by the practice within and outside of the body in all its strong and weak glory. It represents the process of being and coming into being a yogi and more importantly, a good person who is present in the world and can shrug off the moments in which we fail and succeed.

I’ve attached one of the photos below; as it is one of the most fantastic things I’ve seen. Using our practice mats and turning it into art is a staggering idea I wish I thought of. Instead, Quinn thought of it, while watching the tube and drinkin’ some wine. I love that.

After my class, another dear student, now teacher and friend saw that I was upset. I apologized for being emotional and she told me, “It happens. You know what really helps, if you hug a dog.”

She has a couple of dogs and says; just hugging them makes everything better! I don’t have a dog but I thought of my family dog, Daisy, and how every time I go home to NY, she wags her nub of a tail, so excited to see me. She always remembers me no matter how long it’s been since I’ve been away. I grab her and fold her in my arms and she just shakes with excitement, squints her eyes, let’s her tongue hang out and her dog breath billow heavily and she even leaks a little on the hard wood floor.

When Jacquelin said this to me, I got it. Then she gave me her human hug and everything WAS better. Hugs in general are just juicy goodness. I like the human kind, her kind, but I get the dog kind too and it’s the best advice I’ve heard in a long while.

I mean, I was still frustrated, but better.

I realized that the sweat, tears, joy and pain we leave on the yoga mat, can stain and leave marks in other places, sometimes unexpected. When we are met with the people or dogs that are open in acceptance to all of our feelings whether practicing yoga or practicing life, we are really in union. We are in Yoga.

It is my great joy to teach and teaching at Liberation Yoga has been such a gift. It is always home to me. But what I am most grateful for is all that I have learned from the practices and progress from the yogis there. I need them more than they need me.

I might have taught a great class yesterday, but it was I who learned the lesson from the students/teachers that inspire me the most.

Thank you.

Now, go find a dog and hug it!