Hope on the Mat: How a Yoga Teacher Became the Student

Andrea Marcum by Andrea Marcum | May 1st, 2012 | 1 Comment
topic: Fitness, Personal Growth, Yoga

Hope Yoga“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” ~George Iles

When you run a yoga studio, you hear it all. From the annoyingly trivial (“So and so was in my spot!”) to the enormously overwhelming (“I’ve been diagnosed with cancer.”). Some of the stories I’ve heard over the years are so powerful and transcendent, they’ve reached into my life and left an indelible imprint of hope. This is one of those stories:

Her limbs twisted by muscular dystrophy, she wandered in and unrolled her yoga mat. I was concerned — mine is a rigorous class, and I wanted to protect her without making a spectacle. It’s a line every teacher walks with any new student, but her circumstances had me feeling more conflicted about how hands on or off I should be than usual.

But as we moved through the class, I marveled at her customized poses and at how well she knew herself. But it wasn’t until she called me over to spot her in Headstand — a pose I was surprised she would attempt — that it truly dawned on me: She was more aware of what her limitations were than most of us, but she was also more aware of what they weren’t. She was spectacular, explaining to me that because her right arm couldn’t bend correctly, she would need me to adjust my stance to better support her. She didn’t need my counsel — what she needed was for me to find the faith in her that she already had, and to embrace the hope that she would succeed.

Hope can be hard to find on our own. We fumble in our darkness, and then someone holds up a flashlight to help us find our way. When we’re given reason to believe, before you know it, we’re holding up the flashlight for someone else. We are all warriors with the power to illuminate one another, and when we do, we are as beautiful as the stars in the sky.

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” ~Oscar Wilde

Every day for the next month, you’ll find new tips for optimism on Gaiam Life, the Stream of Consciousness blog and our social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. And don’t miss the GaiamTV.com Hope Film Festival, with FREE films all month long.


  1. Ah the conundrum of commodified yoga asana

    timo | May 14th, 2012 | Comment Permalink

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