Touch of Yoga
Yoga touches us all in different ways, for me it happens unexpectedly and last week, boom, there it was- another lesson. The lesson came after teaching yoga to the residents at Emeritus- The Alzheimer’s Care Section in Phoenix Arizona. I left class Thursday with tears in my eyes; some for sadness and some for joy….most for self discovery.
I feel a bit apprehensive when leading students with disabilities because it is difficult to see and feel the physical cues from their body. However, it was a wonderful class filled with tender smiles, emotionless blank stares, laughs, unusual noises, strange smells and me, Anne Sweet, “the do-you-want-to-practice-yoga-today-lady.”
Forget Sanskrit, forget how to adjust some hot dude in down dog, forget your Lulu pants, forget the 8 Limbs – this is a different kind of yoga not typically taught in a teacher training certification class! This is yoga for those in need of specialized care. I have the honor to choose a path that serves those who are less fortunate, who are disabled, and those who can not get to a physical studio. I am their guide.
As I sit in my yoga chair and demonstrate a beautiful rainbow sun salutation, I wonder to myself…what if I ended up here. Who would be my caregiver? Who would be my friend? Who will be sitting in my chair? How unfair would it be to not remember my children or my husband. The thoughts keep coming as I try to quiet my mind…..what a dismal way to end the final years. What is the purpose of their lives right now? Then it came to me. I am not leading them – they are leading me. Looking into their eyes I see so much. They touch my heart and communicate with energy, the way we all do. These students teach me to be humble; to love more, to be grateful, to be empathetic. Their gaze says “There is a person inside of me that used to be like you.”
One of my students stares at me for the entire class – yet every so often she will bring her hands to her heart in Anjali Mudra. I see in her eyes, she knows. She knows that the heart is her center, she is sending and receiving love. Joy, I’m reaching her! Another student smiles and laughs, she doesn’t remember me yet she has the most glorious and expressive Sun Salutation. Her breath is a symphonic Ujjayi and her spirit is contagious. We laugh out loud together when the rainbow turns into a stair step. “It’s okay,” I say, “It’s Yoga, just smile and breathe!” Then I guide the class into their final Mudra – an American favorite called “Give me a HIGH FIVE” they all know as they reach their hands out and I give them a big yoga high-fiver!
These lovely people turned out to be MY guru’s. They are my teachers who remind me that each day is precious and that there is purpose in every stage of life. We must all remember to honor those who have come before us as they are most precious! Yoga seems to be very focused on the young and fit as most of popular culture is – but yoga is ageless it moves beyond the body and into the soul. Please reach out and touch those with disabilities and those who can’t make it to a studio for there is great wisdom in those ancient eyes.