the front window of the beautiful rad'a space

the front window of the beautiful rad'a space

This afternoon, I taught my final weekly community class at rad’a (until September). It was unbearably hot in Montréal today, way over 30ºC and super humid. I had no idea who would feel like doing yoga on a day like today ~ everyone should be sitting under shady trees in parks, or  drinking sangria in backyards. I hardly felt like being at the class myself.

But when I got to rad’a, the space was remarkably chill and the fans were on, keeping the air circulating. I put on some dub and waited to see who, if anyone, would show up. And they did, slowly and steadily. There were some familiar faces, regular students who have been coming for a while, and a couple of new faces. Because of the heat, I abandoned my lesson plan and instead lead everyone through a super restorative practice, mostly spent laying on piles of blankets.

The Thursday afternoon yoga class is a community pay-what-you-can (PWYC) class, which I’ve been offering since before the economy crashed in the fall of 2008 (seriously!). There has been a lot of talk about how  the economic downtown has affected yoga classes and practitioners (YogaDork does a fantastic job of covering Recession Yoga with wit, charm and intelligence), and we’re seeing an increase in pay-what-you-can yoga classes around North America, as in this elephant journal post.

I think this signifies an interesting direction for yoga in North America, and it’ll be good to see yoga become more accessible, available and affordable for everyone. The benefits of PWYC yoga for the practitioner are pretty obvious, as are the risks for the average yoga studio. But for the individual teacher, who just teaches in her community out of a desire to serve and a love for sharing the practice, the gifts of offering PWYC yoga are many. Here are a few…

warm fuzzies: This one’s pretty obvious, but offering free or PWYC yoga classes makes me feel good. It’s just really rewarding to offer something from the heart without expectation or monetary exchange.

the element of surprise: The class is drop-in, so I never know who’s going to show up. There could be 3 people, there could be 20. I may have a certain posture or series I’d like to do, then realize that it won’t work for the people who’ve shown up. So I have to adapt to the energy of the participants, and it keeps me on my toes. I have to be prepared, but not attached to my plan. Which leads me to my next point, how PWYC classes are…

a pure lesson in non-attachment: Not only can I not get attached to planning classes, but I can’t get attached to students. Some people show up once, seem to be into the practice, and then I never see them again. I have no idea why they may not return, and I can’t base my self-worth on it. On the other hand, there are students who keep coming back for months, and others who pop in sporadically. And despite this sort of randomness, there is still a strong sense of…

community! The Thursday afternoon class is more than just being open to the community ~ there’s a community of yogis swirling around the class, who show up week after week. Friendships spark on the mats before class, people often linger around the front door after class, and friends bring friends who bring other friends.

So while I’m taking my summer vacation for kind of selfish reasons, I’m optimistic that a little break will enable me to serve better when I resume teaching in September. In the meantime, you’ll find me on the terrace, drinking iced coffee and reading trashy magazines. La dolce vita!