Creating Connection in the Online Yoga Classroom
Part of a teacher’s job in any classroom is to create a community of learning. When I did my yoga teacher training, I was very aware that a large part of my learning happened in the daily milieu of being with my training cohort. It wasn’t just about content. I learned from the content, for sure, but I also learned about yoga through the sense of community we created and from our connections. I learned from seeing how my teacher’s responded to other students, how they addressed issues or explored, in real-time, the physical learnings and the questions that arose for other trainees.
So how do we create a felt sense of what it means to learn yoga together when we are teaching online? How do we foster community among our yoga students if they are not in a shared physical space?
Yoga allowed me to see more clearly.
I didn’t even know how distorted my vision had been.
For all of us, yoga has the capacity to clear the lens through which we are seeing. We become lucid. How we see and what we see becomes beneficial to humanity. In fact, the Rishis, whose visions were lucid and timeless, were called the Seers. From their clear-vision (clairvoyance) the Upanishads – or divine poems – arose. (Rishikesh, the birth place of yoga, is named for the Seers.)
Darshan. The experience of seeing and being seen.
We are born with a deep hunger to be seen. At our birth and infancy, our survival depends on it.
As we grow and evolve, we do so through risk, intuition, and vulnerability. Sometimes clumsily (our new born deer legs may wobble). Sometimes gracefully (we catch the wind under our wings).
As I was instructing the Mother-Daughter Yoga at Kripalu last weekend, and the Yoga and Love retreat at Breitenbush two weeks ago, I witnessed the collective effect of the residue fading and the radiance returning. In relationships that may include resonance, intimacy, poignancy, complexity, conflict, despair, angst, joy, and longing. To trust the process of lessening the residue, as a way to welcome back love and connection, means learning a new way of being together. Yet, so much of life seems to be about doing. What can we do to create intimacy, avoid conflict, secure joy, and to prevent angst?
In the early morning walk to the hot tubs, I recalled how many times I’ve tread this exact path for over 25 years, and how many others have done so, too. I also remember the moments when my awareness opened up to recognize life beyond my own skin, life beyond my own joys or sufferings. It was, in fact, walking amongst these trees, alongside this river, in the mystical mornings before preparing breakfast for 120 overnight guests at Breitenbush Hot Springs.
One of the great gifts of yoga is in opening to the mystery that is living itself through our lives. Saying yes to this mystery, we say yes to the full participation with life: each inhale opening; each exhale, bowing to the ocean of this mystery. From this viewpoint, all I see around me becomes the divine mystery, manifesting itself in these many, many forms. Seeing the world this way gives a poignant and sweet sense of intimacy with everything, a boundlessness of heart.
Meandering into Meeting My Teachers
One of my teachers was born into a family lineage. His father is his guru. And his father’s father before him. His father is also his inspiration, his devotion, and thus he knew there was a path already prepared for him. When in his presence, the loyalty he expresses toward his tradition and his family pierces my heart.