Why We Practice

Last week a fight broke out in yoga class.

I’ve been teaching at this high school for three years, and its always been a peaceful crowd. They don’t tell you how to break up fights in yoga teacher training, so I found my soft voice saying “Hey, come on…..” and nothing happened. The energy and language escalated so quickly that I soon heard myself yelling “STOP. Both of you, STOP.” And they did.

The tension was thick. In that moment, nothing could be resolved through words….not with other classmates watching. So, I asked the question, “Do you want to stay and practice? Because you have a choice…..”

The answer was YES. We want to practice.

So we stayed. To date, its the most uncomfortable class I’ve ever taught. There was no music or anything to distract us….just breath and movement and tension. I’ve never seen those kids take deeper breaths or stretch their bones the way they did that day. Attention was peaked. No one complained.

I felt, perhaps more than ever in my experience of the practice, the strength of its alchemy….to usher energy, even the really hot and ripe kind that angry teenagers know the best. Its the kind that we all know in our hidden fears and deepest pains if we allow it.

Yoga takes the fuel of our emotions and binds our power to something bigger.

Yesterday, my first day back since the fight, I received an apology at the beginning of class. And after it was over, the one who “started” the fight said, “You know, I didn’t think I would like yoga, but I do….”

I’m so taken that these kids didn’t leave when it was hard. What an example, that they stayed and raged through it, to find on the other side something like a deeper breath.

This is why we practice.