The other day in class, I had a new student. Nice enough, friendly enough, but not a great listener. Most teachers can easily identify these folks-- the "I've done yoga lots of times before" students. There's nothing you can do to convince these students that they should listen a little bit before entering the 105 degree room for 90 minutes. You try to give them the schpeel, but know as they do jazz-hand, quick nod, averted gaze shuffle, that they're not really hearing you. The rest of the 20 students in class this day were my regulars-- hard-working, earnest students. Simply stated, they had great energy.
I used to snicker a little bit when people talked about 'energy.' Once my friend Jamie's psychic (who is also my psychic), said that the stone in Jamie's necklace was an energy hub, a channel or something like that. Jamie's necklace was actually a faux stone made of plastic that she got at Goodwill. But who's to say the psychic didn't really feel the energy, even it was a plastic stone right?
The truth is, I actually am a believer in energy, especially as a yoga teacher. There's a completely symbiotic relationship that happens between the teacher and the students. When it's on, it's incredible. When it's off, it's a little bit like being in a stalling car chugging up a steep San Francisco hill.
At the end of a good practice, I barely remember what happened at the end of a class. Suddenly, the class is in final Savasana, I am talking them through a relaxation exercise, my eyes are closed and my fingers are buzzing. Other times, I feel like I've just run a marathon with no training. I'm depleted, exhausted, parched and frustrated.
There are of course ranges, where sometimes a class is populated with a handful of wiggle worms and/or a core group of extreme focusers. Sometimes I start teaching and I'm tongue-tied, but the energy of the class brings me back and I can get to the place I love to get when I teach, the good teacher place.
The day the know-it-all new student came to class, I started the class and could tell I was off. I was a little off anyway, but more so because I was worried about the new kid. She managed to stay all of 4 minutes and then left (an absolute no-no for those of you not ensconced in the Bikram Yoga culture). I was bummed. You never want a student to leave because that means they haven't pushed themselves and that means they've missed out on the best part. But after she left, WHOA, the crowd went wild. Not literally. The crazy-focused regulars barely batted a collective third eye. And, they proceeded to kick their own asses for the next 86 minutes. It was an awesome finger tingling class for all of us.
Sometimes I wonder where it starts. Is it with me, the teacher, or is it with the 10 or 20 or 35 students in the room? When I'm on and they're on, it's magical. When I'm on and they're off, it's good. When they're on and I'm off, I seem to get better, but when we're both off, heaven help us. It's a disaster. We all feel the disconnect. Even if we can't articulate what made class kind of a dud, we know something was missing.
The radical shift of energy when the know-it-all left the class that day makes me question more thoroughly how energy works, and how we are a part of it. I'm sure this post will require a second part because right now I have no idea, but who knows, maybe a plastic stone being an energy conduit doesn't warrant a snicker.