#005 inhale, exhale, right foot, another foot


When Miyuki got up to teach I could feel the rest of us breath collectively in support. Miyuki spoke very little English. Very little. She frequently stayed after lectures to sit with our instructors with her electronic translator. She smiled and observed while the rest of us talked a mile-a-minute during the entirety of our 16-day training.

Most of us had already taught. Already moved through the flow of anticipatory anxiety, misstepped words and miraculous finishes. I remember looking up at her and thinking, it doesn't matter if you mess up the words, you have an excuse. And I didn't mean it in any other way than with total support and appreciation for how massively difficult it must be to teach in a language so foreign.

In the course of her 10-minute teaching exercise, Miyuki spoke very few words of English. Mostly inhaleexhaleright foot and another foot (which is a very clear direction as it turns out). She taught mostly in Japanese and I didn't understand a lick of it, yet I knew exactly what she was asking of me. She used her body, her breath, her intonation to express, more clearly than most of us native speakers, her theme and directions.

She stood tall (at a whole 5'0") and used her hands to describe the pathway of the lungs. She marched her feet into the mat and we all got grounded. She used her hands on us, physically, to outline the expansion of energy and directional pull.

I never cried so hard in my entire life.

There was no confusion when Miyuki taught. No one looked around with that puzzled, what did she say-look, no one picked at the peeling nail polish on her toes in standing forward fold and no one could argue a lack of clarity, continuity or sophistication.

As her students, we gave her our undivided attention. Without question.

It struck me that I (probably most of us) don't necessarily always do that for my friends or most beloved teachers. That sense of familiarity and comfort - the expectation for perfection, show me something new, I think this song was in last week's playlist... or whatever - it was all gone. I just wanted to hear her and participate fully. I wanted to be a vehicle for Miyuki to succeed. Why can't I/we do that for everyone? It seems so simple and obvious, especially in the platform of yoga. Listen, learn, do.

Miyuki and her students accomplished so much in a mere 10-minutes. I felt honored to be a part of it.

What would it be if I did that for all of my teachers? Listened. What would it be if I did it in my relationships? Just listened. What if I did it at work too? Be still and listen.

What would it be if our leaders, lawmakers, peace-negotiators used such tools? What if they listened with an ear of empathy? What if they listened with a sense of compassion and understanding? What if they listened with no other expectation but to learn about a person/community/nation's experiences and truths? What if they actually listened?

Hell, what if they just did yoga?