Recently, I entered a contest with Yoga Journal, which asked the prompt question: Why do you feel like you belong on the cover of Yoga Journal Magazine?
I started thinking about my role as a teacher, and what it meant not only for me, but for my students and peers as well. It brought me back to a realisation I had the weekend of the terrible attacks on Paris, when I realised how important community is.
It came about like this: I had my regular scheduled Saturday afternoon class the day after the attacks. So many of us were scared and saddened, not knowing how to move past this tragedy. One of the shootings was just downstairs from my apartment at a café that my husband and I frequent often. I was torn, trying to find the courage to carry on and be there for my students.
I finally came to the conclusion that I must still hold class, teach and be there for my students and provide them a safe, peaceful place where we could all be together.
My bike ride to the yoga studio was one of the saddest I have ever had. All the streets where blocked off around my home, filled with military, police and an army of reporters. I had to pass by two other places that had been targeted. People’s faces where filled with fear and loss. I begun to cry.
I got to the studio trying to decide what to teach, wondering if people would show up, not knowing if I would be able to hold myself together during class.
And then, all my students starting flooding in. I was overwhelmed with their presence, knowing it was not easy for them to come, with the metro stations being shut as well as the fear they were likely experiencing.
They all said they were so happy to see my post on my Facebook page announcing I would still have class. We shared our stories of where we were during the events, talked about our loved ones and friends of friends who were safe and those that were not.
At first, I was inclined to give a peaceful meditation class, but after seeing my students faces and feeling their love, support and the courage it took for them to come, it gave me so much strength. I wanted to give them a class that would do the same for them.
We had a beautiful class, focusing on overcoming fear using the breath of Kali and finding our inner peace to carry on, knowing peace is not a place but is found within.
This day made me realise just how important community is and how important my role is in it. Some of my students are alone here in Paris, elderly or expats who had found comfort in our normal Saturday ritual of practicing Yoga, while others found solace in our practice by not allowing the fear to control their lives.
After this day my small yoga group and I have grown closer and I feel more of a leader in their life than I ever have before. Their courage on this day made me want to give them so much more, to be the best Yoga teacher possible. I want to learn more and grow more so that I may help my students grow in their practice on and off the tapis (mat), and show my students how much their daily strength and courage inspires me to be a better person, teacher and yogi — not just for me, but for them.