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Hands down, the best thing about teaching yoga is that you are helping people feel better. I have watched my students' baby step towards both mental and physical breakthroughs. I've listened to them whine and whine about not being able to do certain postures, and then one day, pow, not only are they doing a full wheel, but they're also able to stand in line at the grocery store without wanting to decapitate the person in front of them. I have actually had one student look me straight in the eyes and say, "You saved my life." Sometimes people share a bit too much info because they feel so open after class. Stuff like sex, addictions, health problems and bowel movements have been discussed plenty of times. People come to yoga to find balance in all areas of their lives — romantic, digestive, moral, emotional, spiritual, social, psychological, physical, what have you.
Sometimes students hit on teachers, which can be awkward. I have never dated a student. I have had more than one person quit after I said I felt uncomfortable with dating students. I have also had at least one person ask other students out after I said no. I have never been in a class where anyone farted loudly. But I have assisted large classes where body parts were just unexpectedly "out there." One girl's pants had fallen so far in the back, she was exposed way beyond plumber-style. And a warning for the boys: a side slit too close to the waistband reveals the full Monty from certain angles.
Sometimes people try to push past their limits in class, even though you plead that they cut it out in three different ways. Once, a yoga mat got too close to a "calming" candle and caught on fire.
The most surprising thing about yoga in Little Rock is the competitiveness between teachers and studios. Most studio owners won't go to a retreat or master class if it's hosted by a competing studio. Some studios pay teachers more if they promise only to teach at their place. I suppose this isn't surprising from a business point of view, but from a yogi-who-thought-everyone-was-totally-gonna-work-together-with-peace-and-love point of view, it was a bit of a shocker. When it comes down to it, yoga has become a multimillion-dollar business.
Written for the Times.
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