Not even yoga teachers escape the pressures of modern life, writes Lexie Williamson
Yoga teachers often appear to have unraveled the secrets of the universe and attained a higher cosmic wisdom that shines brightly from within. I can testify that they are, in fact, only human and (almost) as prone to road rage or idle gossip just like the rest of us mere mortals.
I discovered that yoga instructors are fallible 10 years ago in my local branch of Tesco. It was there, gliding around the store on those post-yoga class vibes, that I bumped into my own teacher – supple, lithe, totally unflappable and definitely wise to the secrets of the universe. So who then was this red-faced, harassed, woman in the biscuits aisle? Her toddler was swaying precariously in the shopping trolley, wailing and refusing to sit down, while the other two kids mooched behind dragging their feet. My instructor was hissing and snapping at them to hurry up.
Just hours earlier and I was sitting cross-legged before her, bathing in her cosmic glow. Now my guru had revealed herself to be disappointingly normal and distinctly flappable. Her cover was blown. After a slightly awkward exchange, I felt oddly reassured. I had just finished my teacher training and was worried about living up to the idealised image of the yoga instructor while simultaneously managing the requirements of three children and a particularly needy dog. Was it enough, I asked myself, to be yogic for the duration of the 75-minute lesson or should I strictly adhere to santosha (contentment) or satya (truth) in every aspect of my life? Should I never raise my voice at the kids, scoff a Snickers bar or swear at the dog? Would I be outed if I did?
The truth is that I don’t want my teacher – or any other – to be ‘perfect.’ The fact that she lives in my world of car parking lots, grocery shopping and kids trumpet lessons is reassuring. She cannot spend eight hours a day wrapped in white linen, locked in the lotus position under a tree. The fridge needs defrosting. There are small people’s socks to be washed. My instructor is under the same pressures of modern life as her students. There is always a weekly shop to be done; it’s tough to find even 10 minutes to sit quietly. In a way this makes the yoga time teachers and students share all the more precious. It’s a sanctuary from sock washing for everyone.