Reflecting on Death and Birth

When I started teaching two years ago, I never imagined I would be dealing with the death of a student.  It’s just not an issue that crossed mind when thinking “I’d like to be a yoga teacher”.  Though death is a natural part of life regardless of the path you opt to take.

On Wednesday morning I learned that one of my private clients passed away on Friday, January 4th.  Though I probably only met with this particular client 10-15 times, a friendship developed.  It happens, it’s natural.  It’s part of being human.  I’m sad to write that I’ve lost a friend.

As a yoga teacher one of the most challenging things to manage is the relationship with private clients.  It’s a balancing act.  As a yoga teacher I must be open so that my students can be open with themselves and more importantly trust themselves.  The balancing act is in learning how not being too open and not too closed.  The teacher-student connection is a professional relationship, but like all long-term professional relationships you start to get to know each other on a personal level.  Simple yet personal conversations transpire and build over time about such things as each others’ families, pets, vacations and hobbies.  As a result friendships form, such as the one I had with my student and friend who left us on Friday.

The other thing that has unexpectedly happen through teaching yoga is I find myself many times learning from my clients.  I become the student.  This was the case with my client who passed away.  He was in his early 70’s practicing vinyasa yoga with a partially paralyzed arm.  He went through many chaturangas, upward-facing dogs and downward-facing dogs with a vibrant attitude.  He never complained when something was challenging.  He knew when to modify.  He practiced between our sessions together.  He asked excellent questions.  He was focused.  He had a strong spirit on the yoga mat as well as off the mat.

On the same day my client passed a way, a few hours later my sister gave birth to a baby girl.  This is a very happy event and has the opposite sound of death.  Birth and death are two natural life events.  They hold different meanings and offer different feelings yet both are natural occurrences that everyone encounters at some point.  And both offer opportunities for reflection.

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