a love letter to my yoga teacher

December 29, 2014


it is known to him who does not know and unknown to him who knows. lineages of love, true teachings, and humility

Always messy always awkward, my heart dictates my thoughts words letters today for you. I write to you a lot in my head - you're often there, and I once thought that was weird. So weird that for a moment a few moons ago I had to call my roommate in Kapalabahti panic for her to convince me that dude, no, you don't have a crush on your Mysore teacher. Because every morning I see my friends who guard the streets at night with their milky eyes, I open the door to see the tiny-waisted woman with medusa hair guarding the front desk, and then I see you, who - guards my trust, I guess. I see you, I find my place on the wooden floor, and I surrender immediately – to your words, your weight, your instruction. I see you every day - and you see me - when I have pimples, when my legs are too prickly, when my little Buddha belly gets in the way of my bind. I can’t hide any of it, and you make me feel like I don’t have to even try. I feel safe in your arms, in your gaze – and god, that’s so rare as a woman when so much of the time I feel like this. I don’t have much patience for blind faith, but I’ll do anything you say at least one time. I’m wide open to everyone, filtering then absorbing, picking what I like, setting aside what I don’t, making what I keep my own. But with you somehow it works backwards. Everything you say gets taken in and integrated, and only when something doesn’t easily become part of me is when it’s sifted out. I trust you enough to have no initial bias. I think you forget how charged you are by light, maybe fearing at any moment you might accidentally switch it off. You can’t. Your fingers bleed it every time you touch us. The darkness behind you is the fuel that makes you burn so extravagantly – your “fucks” and “shits” little sparky explosions themselves. When you look at yourself with imperfection, it is the only time I feel imperfect in front of you. I don’t hold you up as guru or any sort of savior - a pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space (steinem). But very recently, I understand what I had scoffed at before. The direct teacher-student transmission Sri K. Pattabhi Jois was known to profess isn’t bullshit - it is real and tangible and makes every decision I make throughout the rest of my day a step clearer – towards the light. When I’m stuck in a moment of humanness, when my ego starts to leech, I think of you, and what you’d expect of your student, what you’d expect of yourself. So stop being an idiot, man. Stop ignoring how special you are and how much you mean to us. Stop letting the ego you’re trying so hard to get rid of get in the way of what you have to give to all of us in that room and on this planet, because it is infinitely endless. You remind us every day of the power that exists within ourselves, so don’t let us feel useless by not seeing it in yourself. Don’t let us down. It means we’re not doing our job of reminding you of your power, too, because just like that, every day you change the world. In that instant, the universe of a girl could have gone a million different ways, but it went the way it did because she thought of you. And maybe I’m the first one to tell you, but I’m not the first one to know it. I started writing this a few weeks ago, and now it’s only a few hours until I board my flight to a city with twin mountains by the sea, countries and cultures away – no smart phone or GPS, not knowing where I’ll be living or with who, armed only with a suitcase, a skateboard, and my yoga mat – weapons that remind me I now know better than to fight to survive. I will only surrender. Trying too hard is just as bad as not trying hard enough, and every morning you remind me –relax your feet, relax your arms - and now I won’t forget. Memories of being a little girl, taking care of my grandfather sick in his bed flood my mind as I write this, perhaps because they are the closest things I can compare it to. At six I understood how much I had yet to learn and so I felt small, yet he always made me feel wildly important - his eyes of experience searching my eyes of innocence - and so I let him look as long as I could stare right back. I absorbed everything he said, too. And  it isn't until just now that I realize how often I write to him in my head as well, hoping he answers from heaven. Crush crawled into my brain that day because I didn’t know how else to explain it. I like words, but there wasn’t one to explain what I felt. I’d never consciously traveled like I have these last 12 months, letting someone else watch me, simple and unguarded. It had nothing to do with desire, or wanting any of you to myself – you were just holding my hand while I was letting shit go. And now I have to let you go for a little while, too. You’re helping me set myself free because I’m the only one in my way. I’m scared shitless, I cry all the time, and all of a sudden I'm constantly writing about what I feel, and a lot of people read it - it's petrifying for everyone to see me so naked so often, and maybe on the outside I look like a mess, but on the inside, I know it is with purpose. Because I’m trying to be a good student. To you, the universe, and to myself. These days I can only be me, and the compulsion to rip off my clothes and untangle my itchy wings is something I can’t turn away from anymore, setting any pedestal I was ever on to fire. Which is why right now I’m okay with writing a kind of embarrassing letter, everyone reading it knowing the insides of a very ungraceful soul, because I feel like you need to hear these things sometimes. Because maybe maybe one tiny word will trigger you enough to start accepting yourself just as you are, bad jokes included. The universe wouldn’t have it any other way. Patrick, your students really really love you - and this is only a love letter because I really really love you too. Thank you for everything you give to us, and for accepting so graciously what we’re able to give back. And so I turn to the rest of us reading this letter, because most don’t know how majestically we affect those around us. We’re humans, and culprits of being insecure some (most) of the time. We get snagged in the hooks and traps we lay out so carefully for ourselves, forever setting us up to get our own ankles and fingers nicked. And since we’re the one’s with the booby trap map expecting our own failure, it leaves no one else but us to break the harmful cycle. But sometimes it really helps to have someone hold your hand through the hard bits, giggle in your ear, and hold you until you fall asleep. We all need reminding, our teachers included. A strong person fights, but he gives up everything he has to fear with the illusion of keeping it – it takes a stronger person to let go. He’s not afraid to fall because he knows he can fly. He lets go because he knows he will fall into the many arms of those that love him. He chooses to believe them when they tell him they do. If we hold each other’s hands, we can be brave. If we hold each other’s hands, we can trust. If we hold each other’s hands, we can fall. So let go of that fear and help someone let go of hers. Tell someone how much he means to you. Bury your face in a gender-neutral heart so that your smiling tears will let it bloom. So thank you to all my teachers,  but today, especially this one, who's there with me when i'm sweaty and smelly and trying my hardest, sweaty and smelly and trying his hardest - consistently just as vulnerable as I am, giving me everything as I give everything back.