I’m not much of a yogini, but I have happily taken yoga classes off and on for the last ten years. I’ve had many lovely teachers, some of whom I adore beyond words. And I know that my yoga practice has improved over the years. I know this not because I’m more flexible (I’m not) or stronger (maybe a little in the shoulders), but because of my capacity to maintain my yoga calm through to the end of class. Why, you might ask, is this a new thing? After all that nice stretching and breathing, what would keep you from leaving class in anything other than a state of blissful calm?
In a word, grammar. Please know that I am not picking on any particular teacher because after all these years and more teachers than years, I can honestly say that I have never yet — not once! — heard a yoga teacher use the words “lay” and “lie” appropriately.
So here’s how it used to go: after a nice long class of calming breaths, when the teacher would be preparing us for shavasana (the corpse pose or little nap at the end of class) I would suddenly hear her say, “Now, lay down on your mats.” And the hair on the back of my neck would stand up as surely as if fingernails had been scratched across a chalkboard (remember chalkboards?) and my muscles would tense throughout my body and more than an hour of easing into relaxation would fly out the window, just like that.
I’m better now, but it’s not because I care any less about the grammar. It’s still fingernails to me. I’ve just learned not to let the painful distraction move me from my centered calm so quickly. Thank you my teachers, for helping me learn this gift of yoga.
And now here’s my little gift back to you. My teaching in gratitude for all you’ve given me. A little loving reminder of some things you may have learned in 7th grade and then forgotten. I will lay my mat on the floor so that I can lie on it. Yesterday I lay on the mat and today I am going to lie on it again. When you want me to lie on it, please ask me to lie down.
That’s all. Thank you.