Yoga and Kindness

Once I was teaching in Idaho, and the class was full of beginners. I noticed two older men in the back of the room, struggling with every move they made. I gave them my best despite their lack of promise, and treated them with kindness.

That evening, I learned that one of the men was chairman of the board of one of the world’s top corporations. He had appreciated my kindness and efforts, and later arranged for me to deliver lectures to his executives, managers, and staff about the mind, integrity, and the workplace. As teachers, we are constantly around people who are struggling to do what we can do with relative ease. Our superior skills can draw us into the traps of the ego and we begin becoming less respectful of others.

To counter this tendency, I constantly remind myself that my classes are filled with professional chefs, concert pianists, ballet dancers, marathon runners, expert swimmers, mothers of five children, CEO’s, medical doctors, massage therapists…. Yes, I can do yoga well, and I can teach yoga well, yet each one of them possesses qualities and skills I will never own. If we keep in mind that each student is far more than the fumbling body we see before us, our ego will be humbled, and our innate kindness will flourish. Kindness is respect, and respect is kindness.

This does not mean that we coddle the student, or do whatever the student wants. Kindness means helping the student progress quickly with the least possible harm. Maximum progress, with minimum time and harshness.

Aadil Palkhivala 2008

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