Prose Poetry by CLS Ferguson
The Last Class
Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. – Thich Nhat Hanh
We all gather to say goodbye. There are fewer of us than usual, and our excitement to see the nymph-like blonde male yoga teacher is noticeably tempered by our sadness to let him go. Past times when I have seen yogis storm out of the center in a huff over the fact that their favorite teacher was out and someone else was teaching, I mumbled under my breath something about how yoga is not about the teacher; it’s about the yoga. Easy for me to have said then. Now that one of my favorite teachers is departing, permanently, or at least for the foreseeable future, I understand my fellow yogis’ perspectives.
Even my husband is here, though he had to take the day off of work. We are the only two who have arrived baring gifts. We file into the room and lay down our mats facing the Buddha statue, which our guru is seated in front of. His aura is a level of serene which I have not experienced emanating from a person before. He takes no requests today—very unusual. Rather than his signature 100 or more yogi crunches, he leads us through one surya namaskara A, then another.
Circle the arms over head. I cannot believe this is our last class. Tadasana. He has more connection with students than any other teacher I have seen here at the center. Circle the arms again. His class only has low numbers because of the time of day. Dive forward. I have left positive comment cards for him every single week this year. Uttanasana. I wonder if anyone even reads the comment cards I write? Bend the knees. I am determined to write someone about this injustice! Jump back without a sound. Taking away this man’s class is so unfair to us all, not to mention the teacher himself! Chaturanga. Someone at corporate is going to have a problem on their hands! Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Our yoga teacher’s voice remains steady and calm. Adho Mukha Svanasana. Perhaps it is only I who have the problem.
Another surya namaskara A, then another. We’re building heat. In spite of myself, I hear that I am cultivating ujjayi breath, as is everyone around me. My negative thoughts begin to crumble, then dissipate into the space around me. I can feel them evaporating, rising to the ceiling as I concentrate more and more on my teacher’s voice, less and less on my anger. This is the gift he leaves us all with.
Photography by Arno Rafael Minkkinen