It’s the monsoon season. I climb the stairs to the terrace. The institute smells, not the bits that are open to the public but inside, in the dining room and in the girls rooms. It’s musty and the place could do with a coat of paint.
This class is a completely new start for me, I set it up and so on. I thought teaching visually challenged students yoga had potential and I wanted to challenge myself.
It’s been two months and I’m not sure how well I’m doing. We’ve shuttled from the AC of the media lab, to the lawn, to the ghastly hall and finally settled on the terrace. I like the terrace – the girls aren’t distracted and we have a tonne of space.
It feels great to be outside. The terrace is quiet and you can see treetops and clouds and the August sky. The girls can’t see anything, not because they’re lying down but because they can’t see, not with their eyes and not in this lifetime. I’m a fan of fresh air and exercise which is why our class is on the terrace. Inside the tube-lights are depressing and I don’t want the girls to have to smell onions frying in shavasana.
Some of the girls smell too and it’s not something they can help- the smell of perfumed hair and sweat and clothes that couldnt been washed cleaner. I take for granted the ability to groom & primp and and to clean my room but everyone doesn’t have that.
I also really like these girls. They make me laugh and force me to take myself less seriously. Working with them is one of the hardest things I’ve done. It makes me feel out of control and very small. This class challenges me, the least of it is that they can’t see me. In my fitted tights, with all my gorgeous muscles and intermittent moments of calm I question my yoga training and what it amounts to -who is helping who? The girls have a wicked sense of humour which is a nice change because yoga classes can get really serious.
I am anal about mat placements and everyone facing in one direction. I rightly expect all the things that I do from my sighted students and then sometimes I berate myself for making it so hard for them because doing yoga poses well, is possibly the least of their concerns. However teaching yoga is what I know and if they’re my students they are going to have to apply themselves wholly.
There is so much give and take involved a yoga class, students aren’t aware of it at a conscious level but how they feel when they leave your class has to do with what you’re projecting that day- what you put in is what you get out. Because students and teachers attune to each other’s frequency, it’s very important to vibrate well as a teacher. Understandably mood-wise this class vacillates a lot more than any of my other classes.
Everything becomes curiously magnified with them. Highs and lows. My patience or lack of, how proud I feel when they try, how funny I think they are, how much I try in and outside this class, how much love swells inside me when I see them, how much love I feel from them, how absolutely small I feel – with my muscles and my university degree, my hard-won ability to correct any pose- what is the point of it all? On the face of it, it’s me teaching them. But it feels like when someone asks you a trick question. You think you’ve the right answer and then you wonder if you got the question right.
This idea about teaching yoga to people who couldn’t see came into my head from nowhere, much like doing yoga came into my life. It’s been a snowball of an idea that has refused to get bigger.
My friend Bhasin put it so aptly “I just want to cum yaar!”. I can’t tell of what help I am or of who is helping who.
Through it I feel like someone is watching me; alternatively encouraging, lighting my road but laughing still. I don’t know who it is and I really don’t get the joke.