When Your Favorite Yoga Teacher Moves On

Aimee Yamamori
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I never thought I’d be the kind of girl to get emotional over a yoga teacher. I have a tendency to ride the line with yoga — I believe I’m a spiritual person but my cynical self can rear its head when it feels too hippie-yoga-weird. But I’ve learned to love a lot about opening up my softer side in yoga. Letting go of judgment and fears, being ok with who I am on and off the mat. At age 42, I’m pretty proud of what I can do with my body, even though it’s not the same size and shape it was 10 years ago. And I owe much of that to trusting myself in yoga class. And I owe a lot of it to a teacher that made me feel special and strong.
 
It might sound like we had a very tight bond — but that’s not exactly true. I saw her twice a week, possibly more, for a one-hour class. But to me, she was inspirational. I wasn’t going to be a ‘perfect’ yoga student that nailed every pose, but I knew I didn’t have to be. I sweat my butt off, laughed and even cried in that yoga class, and not only did I not feel silly about doing those things, I felt safe. I’d always leave class a little lighter, carrying with me her words, or some small mantra to take with me through my day. I grew as a person in those classes and she was, admittedly, my favorite teacher.
 
So a few weeks ago, as I rolled up my mat and heard her say, “this is my last week with you guys, I’m leaving to teach in California,” my heart skipped a beat. She meant just for a few weeks, right? She often left to teach workshops or host training in other cities, but she always came back. This time, however, I quickly began to realize it was for good. When you really think about it, it’s no surprise. She’s an amazing instructor, loved by many students at my studio. It likely was only a matter of time before a great opportunity came calling for her.
 

 
I smiled and said thank you as I often did after class, and told her that I loved the area where she planned to relocate — “aren’t you lucky!” I said. But as I walked to my car I felt a sadness come over me. I realized was going to really, really miss her.
 
The following week my schedule was hectic. I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend my usual time with her, but I had to get to a class somehow, and share one last hour together. It was a ‘hot’ class—oh boy. I’ve got nothing against those who love hot yoga, it’s just not for me. I sweat buckets, my heart pounds and I just lose focus. But if it was my last class with this teacher, I was going to power through. At one point, I had to sit quietly on the mat to get my breath back. Then, I felt a presence behind me and without seeing her, I knew it as my teacher. We sat back to back for a few moments, feeling each other’s breath…in and out.
 
After class, I lingered. To be honest, I felt a little silly saying goodbye. I knew I was feeling emotional and didn’t want to appear weird by crying about a farewell to someone who I couldn’t say I knew very well. I hugged her and said thank you. I did want her to know she had made a big impact on me, even if I felt shy about saying it. And then, she told me that I was a big part of her journey as our teacher, and I had meant something special to her life as well. In the end, we both appreciated what was unique about the other, and what we brought to the table as student and teacher.

In the end, we both appreciated what was unique about the other, and what we brought to the table as student and teacher.

I was genuinely surprised and humbled. I guess I didn’t imagine that I would be someone this talented yoga teacher — who traveled the world and taught hundreds of students — would think of me that way. It was a small gesture with a big impact. Because it reminded me of the power we all have to make a difference in someone’s life — big or small, possibly without even knowing it. Now, I won’t feel too silly to tell someone what they mean to me, and I won’t be ashamed to cry over a goodbye. She gave me a gift that day, and it was to take that great feeling of being meaningful and share it with the world.
 

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Aimee Yamamori

Aimee Yamamori is a yogi and freelance marketing professional. In the future she hopes to do more to support mental health issues and learn how the benefits of yoga affect mental wellness and PTSD. She continues to seek out ways to channel her love of her family, her dog Boo, yoga, Disneyland and watching Law and Order reruns into a lucrative, yet still immensely satisfying career (with an office on the beach).

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