Don’t hide behind the mask of “OK”

Tonight I drove to the DAYA Foundation studio to teach my 6:30pm yoga class in Portland. As I maneuvered my little Fiat through traffic and over the Ross Island Bridge, my stomach began rolling, I started feeling dizzy, and my skin began to perspire. By the time I reached the studio I was breathing shallow, quick breaths.

Students arrived to class and set up their mats. My lovely front desk host, Bonnie, set up my mat while I knelt in the bathroom waiting for the nausea to pass.


Last Monday evening I shadowed a Physical Therapist, Kelly. She knew I was shadowing her because I’m trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. She knows I’m a yoga teacher. She asked me the million dollar question, so what is it that you are missing?

Whenever discontentment shows up it’s often because we believe something is missing from our present moment. And it could be true: when your belly growls, for example, perhaps food has been absent from your life experience for awhile.

I read a snippet from a book by Christian Pankhurst today: watch out for the subtle agenda you might be running to try to change your life and relationship because you’re not accepting where you are right now.

These past three days have been challenging days for me. Part of my answer to Kelly is that I believe I am missing a license to work with the body (physical therapist, psychologist, something of the sort). And so I’ve been researching graduate programs for about 9 months and I feel as though I’m no closer to choosing a life path than I was 9 months ago.

And so when I read the words of Christian Pankhurst, I started laughing out loud: watch out for the subtle agenda you might be running to try to change your life and relationship because you’re not accepting where you are right now.

Watch out for the subtle agenda I’m running? Um, there is nothing subtle about the agenda I’m running on my life right now.

I do my best to hide my confusion and, yes, anxiety about my future to my students and coworkers and friends and it seems wise and prudent in some cases. However I can see myself guarding my feelings as a way of protecting myself. From my personal experience, I’ve learned that whenever I feel as though I am guarding my heart … there is work to do. There is never a good reason to guard your heart.


Around 6:25pm I took my place at the front of the studio. My hands were shaky as I plugged in my phone to the wireless speaker and selected an album with low intonation. I sat down on my woolen blanket and welcomed my new faces. Most of the faces I meet in Portland are new still. Two students had finished midterms in the past week and another student was starting her yoga practice again after having a baby.

Before I could put on a fake smile and “make it through,” I expressed that I was feeling as though I had food poisoning. Their compassion was palpable.

I’m not sure why I felt so unwell. Truthfully, it could have been that I had very low blood sugar. Regardless, I continued to improve throughout the duration of class and I felt the most connection to my students and my passion for teaching yoga since I moved to Portland in November. When my students came out of savasana, they looked peaceful and they all floated out of the yoga studio. The “on-ness” could have been because my home yoga and meditation practice has been rather present these past few weeks which often translates into wonderful yoga classes. It could have been that I finally am starting to feel at home and settled energetically which translates to a wonderful class experience for students.

Or perhaps it was because I let myself be seen and I felt heard.