My amazing students: overcoming chaos and staying in the flow

On Fridays I teach a gentle flow class. It's my favourite class of the week - calm music, breath-focused flow - it even leaves me, the teacher, feeling refreshed!

This evening we had a bit of a 'special' class. First of all, we practice in a small conference room annexed to the back of a local NGO. For the past few weeks the air conditioners haven't been working properly and it has been HOT. Like, hot-yoga-hot, but the heat and humidity are 100% natural and you can't just turn them down or open a window! Said NGO office is adjacent to a local football (soccer) field, and today just before yoga class the inevitable happened: yes, you got it, ball through the window. Glass everywhere, chaos, and, yep, gaping hole for noise, mosquitoes and yet more humidity to come in through.

As we started our practice, the game next door continued, seeming louder than ever through the broken window. When the game finished, the guys decided to string up a net between the field and the NGO building. Great idea! Also, loud, chaotic and complicated idea which meant that we had 15 young guys standing on the wall in between the NGO and the field, shouting to each other, holding a net, trucking ladders back and forth, and yes, staring in at whatever-on-earth-the-wacky-foreigners-are-up-to-now: our Yoga class.

So there we are in our 100% humidity, mats sliding on tiled floor, mozzies buzzing, footballs flying, ladders clanging, boys shouting, and I am turning up the music and practically shouting
"stay with your breath"... And somehow, we manage to stick with it, somehow, we manage to stay in the flow. As we hit Savasana night falls, I turn off the lights, turn up the music, and finally find that teeny bit of stillness.

And then, after the class, one of the students comes up to me and says: "I think that was the best yoga class I've ever been to in my 60 plus years."

So this post is dedicated to my students. As I said to them tonight, they never cease to amaze and inspire me. There we are in our far-from-perfect conditions, and yet they keep coming, week in and week out, to practice Yoga. Here they are, far from home and family, from country and loved ones, living in the crazy uncertainty of this chaotic town and yet, they practice. They practice through sticky heat, power-outages, mosquito bites, broken glass, football games, and shouting youth. They come to practice through the dust and the heat, or wade through the muddy, flooded parking lot in torrential rain. Despite all the obstacles this place can throw at them, they practice. And THAT, I was reminded tonight, and reminded them, is Yoga.

Because life is unexpected. You never know what it's going to throw your way. It's not a smooth, easy road - it's a 4x4 obstacle course and the ride is going to be bumpy! Yoga is about self-discovery, and it is in facing adversity that we really learn about ourselves, it is how we deal with the challenges and the potholes that teaches us who we are and helps us to grow. And if we can keep a soft breath and a steady gaze amidst all the chaos - then truly, what can we not do?