This morning everyone in the Greater Philadelphia region is waking up to the pitter patter of rain on their windows. As I slowly come out of a deep sleep, my room is the darkest of dark like a protective cave of slumber. I should have noticed right away that the sunshine of yesterday was gone, as both our cats were on our pillows jumping at something imaginary on our walls. They had been meowing anxiously and restlessly rummaging around the house. I pried myself out from the covers and shuffled mindlessly to the bathroom. Right before I flipped the light switch, a shocking flash filled the room. An instant later it was followed by a rumbling so loud it vibrated my chest. As I stood in the middle of the dark room, I allowed myself a moment to feel the flashes of lighting and the deep thunders. Storms are nothing new to me know, but they are still spectacular. I realized that it was Weasley’s and Baxter’s first thunderstorm. Just like any of us experiencing something for the first time, a cocktail of emotion stirs inside; a mix of thrill, confusion, fear, and elation.
The storm brought me back to my own experience yesterday, when I taught my first public yoga class. All day I prepared for my class, thinking of excellent cues, picking the perfect music, and picturing the students I would have. I was like a humid Summer’s day, heavy with anticipation. Slowly the minutes and then hours evaporated, leaving me with nothing to face but the fated moment.
I really had no idea what to expect and—to be perfectly honest—I had no idea how to prepare. As more and more people arrived and the studio filled, I felt a storm cloud building within me. I had energy vibrating from my fingertips to my toes. Nerves clashed with fear; doubt rumbled with excitement. I was beginning to hope that I could hold onto these emotions forever and not actually go through with this moment. The class was nearly full (over 45 people), so not the easiest first class to teach. As if she saw my confidence blustering, Mary came over with only 2 minutes left before class. She was in my teacher training, is one of the nicest ladies I know, and most importantly had taught this class before. Mary was told once and so in turn told me, “starting like this is like jumping off a cliff—everything else you do will be cake.” She gave me the go get ‘em girl pep talk I needed before running back into the room and onto her mat. And with that, there was no time left. I opened the door and began…
It is hard to visualize how something will be until you’re there, doing it, experiencing it. It’s like the first rollercoaster you ever rode. Could you ever have imagined it looking or feeling like that? How do you describe the feeling of your first jump off the high dive, when you are suspended in air awaiting the water? For me, it was like I became the storm cloud. At first I was still nervous, letting my cues and my energy drip one rain drop at time. Each word came out hesitantly and cautiously. Yet as the class began to move, I suddenly got my surge of vigor and my energy began to pour. I felt my tension cascade away as my words rained down in streams. I have NO IDEA what I said. All I know is that I moved through the room and out of the corner of my eye saw my students moving to my words. When at last I led the class in the final pose savasana, the room became silent, still, and calm. I took a deep breath in and felt the air fill my belly, chest, and spine. On the exhale, all my tension released and I was left with an exhilarated high. The storm had passed. (It actually looked like it rained in there—the students were drenched!)
In the end, it all happened at a speed I couldn’t define. Some moments felt like they lasted forever, others went by in a flash. I couldn't tell you if I used the wonderful cues I practiced or if the music I chose worked. What I do know is that after the class I felt elated, fresh and warm from somewhere deep within. So it only seems fitting that I left the class with these simple words:
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson