There’s something about the end of summer that gets everyone in a back-to-school mode, regardless of if they have use for new notebooks and sharpened pencils. It’s a futuristic mind-set, whether you’re shopping for the biggest box of crayons, moving out of apartments, or trying on all your fall sweaters, the last days of summer are rarely spent as summer.
In terms of school and work, the end of an era also brings the end of a title. When someone asks what you do, that’s rarely our response. Most say their job title, without any implication that they experience more in their life. I am completely guilty of this; in fact, when someone went against the grain and told me he “said his opinions, wrote and argued” for a living, rather than saying “lawyer,” I responded with a blank stare.
So, even as September marks the last year of using “student” as the what I do is who I am answer, I know this will not be the end of my learning journey. Case in point, I have learned multitudes more since becoming a yoga instructor than when I only considered myself a student. I may be a yoga teacher, but I learn more from my students than they probably do from me. Had I taken that title completely to heart, I would’ve missed out on the lessons all around me.
Some think of yoga as an hour on the mat, for some it’s an hour they never want to experience. The purpose, though, is for yoga to be present in every part of your life. In my opinion, it’s the exception to not letting what you do define who you are. The epitome of the exception is the visionary, inspiring, and dedicated teacher BKS Iyengar that sadly passed away this week, at age 95.
It’s not just yogis that are taking notice, it’s the world. He impacted every element of how we think of yoga in the West, revolutionizing how people integrate the practice into their lives and whom it is accessible to. He’s the reason why I secretly sit in lotus at my desk and can use the word “teacher” to describe not only what I do, but also who I am. He’s even the reason Lululemon’s horseshoe logo sits on the calves of so many people, even those who don’t have a yoga practice.
It’s this type of impact one person can have on the world that shows the value of remaining present. It’s easy to spend any “last”-whether it’s your last two weeks in a position, or your last year in school- as if it is already complete. However, this lack of presence is what allows us to miss out on benefiting from one last connection or experience that we won’t have access to again. It keeps us from realizing the new opportunities for growth, whether it’s trying something new or finding new value in what already exists. Presence has an irreplaceable importance that transcends titles and transitions. Regardless of one’s stage in life, presence is essential for enjoying each stage of life.
“Illuminated emancipation, freedom, unalloyed and untainted bliss await you, but you have to choose to embark on the Inward Journey to discover it.” BKS Iyengar