Lately I've taught a classes with a different shape to them. One was part of a menopause group's activities. One was part of a teen health awareness program. One was an early afternoon chair yoga class. As strikingly different as these groups might seem on the surface, they are beginning in the same place, the present moment, this inhale. Throughout the practice attention wanders and returns to the breath, students sometimes watching me, sometimes turning totally inward, sometimes gazing at each other. And by the end, all in the same place, releasing the grip on the body and the mind, finding that the breath can take them into a place of peace, acceptance, ease.
As the teacher I lead them, I join them, I follow them. This is my practice. My practice carries me into and out of each day with an awareness of the way the heart moves the breath and the breath moves the heart and investigates all the spaces in which that might happen. I ask my students what they are doing here, and admit that we don't have the answer to that question except to say, "being present." I urge my students to accept that this is the body in which they will be living their life and that the exploration, celebration and joy of that unfolding experience can continue as long as there is breath.
Sometimes when I teach mat-based classes my students fall asleep in Savasana. How could I love them any more than I already do? Feeling the gentle breathing all around in my crowded chair sessions, I keep my eyes closed and lean my own breath across the room to hold all the sweet drifting hearts above the water level, until awareness returns to the fingers and toes and they can swim on their own.