I was under the impression that the last few months of my senior year would be a breeze.
I was wrong.
Turns out, the months leading up to graduation consist of a multitude of obligations, such as testing and college visiting and and study sessions and photos and dances. And outside of school, I’m being handed new and exciting opportunities left and right, all of which are too good to say ‘no‘ to. All of this has resulted in a Google Calendar that would give anyone anxiety (coupled with the fact that I actually have anxiety), and is the complete opposite of the April I was anticipating of laid-back classes and an abundance of free time.
The first week of April hit me like a train so hard that I was feeling burnout by Wednesday morning. Monday and Tuesday had me out of the house at 6 AM and back home 12 hours later, just to start some homework. My days were filled with things I love- community connection, teaching, moving, breathing, learning- but they were so filled to the brim that I was already feeling like I wouldn’t be able to make it through the month.
Then Wednesday afternoon rolled around, and I was handed the opportunity to teach an asana practice to a yoga class offered on my campus as a PE elective. It’d be the first of three classes that day, but something in me said, ‘do it’. I headed into the yoga room, plugged in my music, and watched the room slowly fill with students of all grade levels, some I knew, some I vaguely recognized, and some I’d never seen before. Once they were settled, I introduced myself and I dropped them into child’s pose to ground.
As I looked around the space, which is actually quite beautiful for a converted wood-shop room, I was suddenly hit with the magnitude of what I was doing. These were young women and girls. These were teenagers. These were the beings that I seek to empower and inspire to do great things. And I had their listening ears and undivided attention for the next hour or so.
It hit me that, more likely than not, there would be a sophomore or freshman out there who was going through what I had gone through at that age: depression, anxiety, no self-esteem. I had the opportunity to say exactly what I wish I would have been told in that moment. I had the opportunity to open a new door, maybe be the light at the end of a tunnel, even for a moment.
I believe yoga changes lives. I truly do. And the beautiful thing is that it does so almost by accident. You come to your mat to move and sweat, and end up having revelation after revelation about who you are. Had someone handed me yoga when I was at rock bottom, had someone guided me towards what would someday be my salvation, I would have been forever grateful. And for one person in the room, maybe this was what they needed- they needed someone to show them that they aren’t crazy, that they aren’t alone, that they aren’t helpless. That this practice can be a tool they carry throughout the rest of their lives, exploring who they are and who they wish to become.
And so we sweat together. And we breathed together. And we flowed together.
And I spoke about anything that came to mind. I asked them to look away from the mirrors on the walls, to notice without judgement how often they felt the need to pick apart their appearance, to compare themselves to the person next to them. I asked them to close their eyes and notice what it’s like to feel instead of expect. I asked them to look deep inside and ask themselves if they were on the right path, if they were becoming the person they wish to be. I asked them to find their inner voice, to notice if it is compassionate and conducive to growth.
I asked them the questions that I used to pull myself out of the abyss.
Because maybe, just maybe, someone needed to hear it. Or maybe they didn’t know that yoga could be like this, that it can be about more than walking on your hands or doing the splits. Or maybe just one person would think about these questions, even years later, and realize just how important they can be.
When they dropped into savasana, I felt like the wind was knocked out of me. Instead of feeling drained or tired, or dreading the next two classes I’d teach that day, I felt invigorated and inspired by these yogis in front of me. They were so brave, allowing not only a new teacher, but one of their peers, to guide them in a practice of vulnerability. And after we closed, and the students started to pack up their mats, and I started getting hugs and shy thank you’s, it all clicked for me:
This is my life’s work. This is what I’m meant to do. I’m meant to connect, I’m meant to speak authentically, I’m meant to teach. It may not always come in the form of yoga (although I’d be surprised if it didn’t), but that is who I am. This is the clarity I have been seeking my entire life, a confirmation that I have a path to find… and perhaps I’m so lucky as to be already walking along it.
If my class speaks to just one person, it is beyond worth it. Every chance to teach is a privilege. My life is a blessing.
Being busy is a privilege. My calendar is filled with commitments, but they are commitments fueled by passion. Every opportunity to teach is such a rare and beautiful opportunity, a form of connection that is so rare in this world. Unlike so many, I’m offered the ability to speak my truth every day, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. I may be “busy”, I may be tired, I may be stuck in traffic or running late or eating yet another meal in my car, but I’m doing what I love.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.