A Thank You Note…

By Emilia Arenas

Recently we celebrated Thanksgiving, that is a holiday that I love even though it is not a holiday we celebrate in my native Colombia. Not only the fact that we use this day to express our gratitude towards all we have and the people we are surrounded by, but also that everybody regardless the nationality or religion, families and friends gather to enjoy an evening together.

I always think about my daughter and how much happiness she has brought to my life, my family that is always there for me even when we are miles apart, my friends that are like bright stars in a dark night, my teachers that opened my eyes to the most beautiful path of yoga, and my students who keep me inspired to keep practicing every day.

As I thought about my students, it got me thinking how enriching the relationship student/ teacher is. 

I started teaching fitness classes and then yoga for about three decades now, and Throughout all these years, I have had students who became dear friends. I talk to them often, with some of them we lost track of each other but they still remain in my heart even when I don’t talk to them anymore. Some of them became teachers and now we share the passion of teaching the path of yoga with others. 

So many students have been part of my daily life year after year; waves of students who enter and leave my life, always teaching me something different, always showing me the ability the human body has to transform itself as the amazing proof of the greatness we all have within us; some have also come to show me some limitation that eventually became a broken barrier; limitations that showed us both a different way to open up to new possibilities and the willingness to accept new challenges.  

The relationship between the teacher and the students is a very magical one, where the teacher has the possibility to share what she knows, and the gift she gets in return is acquiring more knowledge to then be shared with other students.

I feel very fortunate to count on my students who show me love every day even now when I only see them through the online classes in my computer. We have developed this sense of connection and we know we count on each other to surmount the difficulties we encounter on our mats and often outside the yoga practice. I feel very inspired by them, showing up every day or most days to their practice, putting aside everything else while they do their practice. I can see how much devotion there is in their hearts for the yoga path. Being the witness of this passion and discipline has been hands down the most inspiring experience.  

I can feel their trust as they got themselves into asanas that bring back memories of fear, memories of disappointment, fear or feeling pain or falling…and even though all those emotions seem to cloud their minds, they decide to only listen to my voice and go ahead facing the scariest experiences. Watching them overcome those fears and transform them into simple day to day movement gives me the courage to do the same and encourage them more. 

Being a teacher is to me a gift that only keeps me learning more, about myself and about the way we connect to each other often times without talking more than a few words every day….it has also taught me to observe and to be present, to enjoy and let go, to celebrate with them the small victories and the biggest achievements. Being a teacher has taught me to appreciate the exchange of a smile that represents the love and respect we have for each other. Being a teacher has giving me the opportunity to learn more about myself as I try to understand my dear students minds. It has made me more compassionate towards our bodies that eventually ends up showing us how strong and how vulnerable we can be. 

Being a teacher has shown me the ability we all have to give selflessly and observe when we feel frustration as We understand we don’t  know it all, that there is still so much to be learned and that my students are the ones who keep teaching me more and more.

Watching students come and go, watching their progress, their devotion, their eagerness to transform their bodies and their lives is my engine to keep showing up not to only teach every day but also to get my own practice done.

Yes, this is for you my dear students, the ones that I see every day, the ones who Covid got us separated from and the ones I haven’t seen in years. This is to let you all know that a huge piece of my heart belongs to you, and that you have been my dearest teachers. You all are on my mat during my practice when I am trying to understand how my body moves so I can later help you understand yours. All the love I receive from you has given me a different sense to my life making it a purposeful one. 

I’m thankful to you all today and always, and these words are dedicated to you! 

Thank you!

Emilia Arenas, teaches Mysore at Miami Life Center. She has a workshop on Hip Openers and a Led Intermediate class coming up this month. Sign up here!

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