As a yoga teacher and Physical Therapist Assistant, I'm supposed to love people. And for the most part, I do. I love connecting with people on a personal level, helping people discover yoga and learning what makes people passionate, happy, and excited about life. I love meeting new people, sharing ideas, talking about yoga and anatomy and philosophy, etc. and discovering what we have in common and what connects us to one another. That being said, sometimes I don't want to talk to people, especially in the context of larger groups. Which is odd, as talking to people is a part of of both my "job descriptions." I remembered this recently when I went into a yoga class, craving a structured class from this specific teacher, yet also knowing I was in one of those moments where I felt the need to be more internal than external. I knew the teacher and probably at least 4-5 people in the class. The minute I walked in to the studio, thoughts began to spin, "I should have stayed home and practiced on my own, I should have just meditated instead, people are going to think I'm rude and mean", etc. While I didn't quite ignore anyone, I said hello, I also didn't engage any further in conversation or ask any probing questions. I sat on my mat, closed my eyes, and shut myself off from any more inquiry or interaction.
I believe this is one of the reasons I stopped being in the entertainment industry. I love to sing, to act, to dance, to express myself through performance. I love music, theater and creative collaboration. It's the interactions in between all of those that is more difficult for me, for whatever reasons. After the show, I wanted to retreat and be able to process what had just happened vs. continue to give energy out being social.
I also think this is why I love connecting through writing and "social media." There is not as much face to face time, no immediate reactions required, no body language to interpret (which also has its pitfalls, as anyone who has had an email or letter misunderstood by the recipient knows). Writing is more internal, more reflective, and admittedly, more one sided. There is time to process the interaction, space to reflect on the communication.
How does this relate to yoga? Well, as a yoga student and teacher, we learn that "All is One," that we are all connected, to continuously reach out to others and to find our similarities and let go of our differences. Yet yoga is also a very internal process, an awakening to who we really are. How do we find that balance between staying connected and honoring our need for space, privacy and internal exploration? This is something I do not have an answer to, or have come even close to finding one. So, I continue to honor the times when I feel open to "being social" and also to honor my need for space, contemplation and "going inward." I can only hope that in those times when I feel like a hermit, I am still cultivating a sense of connection somehow and not putting up walls. It is like walking the razor's edge. As the Katha Upanishad says (repeated many times throughout history), "The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over, thus the wise know the path of yoga is hard to go by."
But we will keep walking it, gratefully...