My favorite healing story about Yoga didn’t happen to me or one of my students, it happened to a guard assigned to me at The Baltimore Museum of Art where I ran an in-gallery yoga program. Over the course of 8 years I taught in every part of the BMA’s beautiful collections. My yoga rooms there were filled with priceless art – Botticelli, Warhol, Calder, Degas, Matisse – and because of the art a guard was assigned to observe the classes in order to make sure no one damaged an object.
I went through three guards at first. They weren’t the right fit. The women (who made up the majority of classes) were uncomfortable with being watched. I mean who can really blame them? It was the fourth guard, who I am going to call Melinda, that was the right fit and we worked together for the remaining years of the program.
Thing was though Melinda wasn’t really having a great time at the BMA. In fact at the time she was struggling with coworkers and attitudes and the culture in general. But I liked her and she liked me and most importantly my students were comfortable with her watching them in order to protect the art. I asked that she be assigned to the class permanently and lucky for both of us, she was.
Years rolled by. Many, many classes later I noticed that Melinda started to do some of the movements when we were standing – in her guard’s uniform, shoes on, walkie-talkie and all. That she held her belly and breathed deep when we did. That she chanted when we chanted. The students loved it. I loved it. And Melinda well she loved it too. I noticed her changing but I held my tongue. I let her be. I let her fall in love with the practice on her own terms.
I was on staff at the time at the BMA (which quite frankly is how I got them to allow me to start the first in-gallery yoga program in the country, possibly the world) and I started to hear whisperings from my colleagues about Melinda.
Did you notice how much happier she is?
Have you noticed how much more enjoyable it is to work with her?
It was during one of these over heard conversations that the following was said: “I think its because of the Yoga classes she is guarding. I think the Yoga is changing her.”
How f*cking mind blowing is that? I actually cried when the words hit me.
So if you are one of the many people out there that thinks you have to be a certain way, look a certain way, bend a certain way, dress a certain way – I am here to tell you: GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY AND DO THE YOGA!!!! The practice is waiting for you. All you have to do is show up.
Happy International Yoga Day!!!
Photos: Jacobs Wing at The Baltimore Museum of Art. Photographer: Mitro Hood