It’s time that we recognise, as students and teachers, that we’re all doing our best — unapologetically. By Victoria Jackson
I’m British and therefore I like to think I know a thing or two about apologising. It’s in my genes. So when I first saw #sorrynotsorry on social media, it really caught my eye. I had to figure out what this glib non-apology was all about. With its overtones of sarcasm bordering on offensiveness, it sounded the opposite of anything relating to yoga, where sincerity and deep authenticity are key. Anyway, surely there is never a need for any apologies on the yoga mat? We’re all divine beings, following our dharma, living our truth, right?
Just thinking about this made me realise how much apologising actually goes on in the yoga context. I had a gentle rant in my class recently, as I noticed how quick my students are to apologise — and quite sincerely — if I comment directly on their alignment in a pose. In my mind, I’m helping them explore more ease, greater steadiness, or some aspect of safety in movement. But they clearly hear it as criticism. When I asked, they said they didn’t want to let me down or have me think they weren’t listening to my teaching or that they weren’t trying hard enough…So much to apologise for, it seems! Then in turn, I had to curb my own impulse to apologise that my teaching style had left them feeling this way!
And as class went on, there seemed to be so many aspects of class that I could have apologised for. My dubious choices in music that certainly couldn’t have pleased everyone, that I got confused cuing one side of the standing sequence (surely I missed out a Trikonasana?), because I didn’t leave long enough for a really good savasana (or did I leave too much time, as one student was quite fidgety)… So many worries my students were blissfully unaware of. Or at least I hope they were. If they could detect my disquiet, I would definitely need to apologise for my teacherly angst distracting them from their beautiful yoga practice!
After all my doubtful concerns about my abilities with class management, I was really amused in working with my own teacher to notice he too has a sorry habit. He is experienced enough to be confident in his own approach to teaching, but he still apologised to me each time he corrected my alignment! Maybe we should all recognise, as students and teachers, that we’re all doing our best — unapologetically. #sorrynotsorry!