This evening, I taught yoga to the most difficult group I've ever been faced with. A group of 20 recovering addict women at a "facility" who were "forced" to participate in my class. They talked over me, they yelled at each other, they got up and left, they came back.
I was teaching an anger management - themed class (by request from the facility and THIS fact only made them angrier). Yoga is presented to them somewhat as a punishment and not as a therapeutic escape. They hate yoga.
One woman kept talking, leaving, laughing, rolling her eyes. But I stuck to my theme of "not letting other people's negative shit penetrate your safe, peaceful zone" and "not letting your own anger & rage be the representative of you, the loving human being".
At the end of class, they thanked me, then scattered to their rooms. My most disruptive student stayed behind and talked to me about her racing thoughts and how she is a prisoner of her rage and anger and is desperately trying to break away to peace.
She cried. And she asked if I would be back next week. And she thanked me. And she apologized for her disruptions during class. And I showed her how to do "burpees of rage" when she's needing to burn off negative energy without punching people's faces. And she hugged me.
And I got in my car and knew that this evening was over my head and beyond my meager abilities. They'd tested me and pushed my buttons and jumped me into the gang. And I never flinched, never blinked.
Thank you ladies, for making me jump hurdles, limbo under fire and skip across swamps on the backs of alligators. I've never felt this accomplished in my life.
I'm always questioning if I'm doing the right thing, or not. I so am.
Contributed to Transformation Yoga Project by Mary Calloway