What Does Yoga Have to do With Eye Doctors?

I have been told that, when the universe (or whatever) wants to tell you something or wants you to learn something, it will give you chance after chance to read the signs it sends you. Have you ever felt like, suddenly, you’re experiencing the same thing over and over again in different parts of your life? For example, my life lately.

In one of my classes, I am reading a book about a Hmong child, her American doctors, and the issue of significant cultural differences. In another, I am reading about Aravind, a world-class eye clinic that operates as a social business with a curiously deep spiritual side. I am in no way a medical student (I still have yet to fulfill my science requirement at Northeastern) so two books like this in one semester felt strange. Today while reading, to my surprise, the Aravind book mentioned yoga and the Hmong mother spoke of souls.

In March, I made the decision to stay in Boston for the summer, and to take this yoga teacher training course. I didn’t consider myself spiritual in any way, and I did not identify with any religion. Prior to making these decisions, I was angry at others for “holding me back.”

Last month, when I still worked at an administrative assistant and was finishing my yoga teacher training course, I met a man who worked in my office, and knew much about chakras, crystals, yoga, and the like. On the day I discovered our similar interests, I was wearing my new necklace, depicting the chakras using different colored gems. I had just finished my yoga teacher training course.

I have recently begun teaching yoga at my school, and after one of my first classes, a woman came up to me and said, “we are lucky to have you here.” The next class, while everyone was in half pigeon, I told my students about the importance of letting bad things leave their heart. I believe it’s incredibly important to let out the negative things we’ve stored in there, to make room for new energy. I don’t normally mention this, but I had recently read an article about yoga making a woman so depressed that she stopped going to class. I told my class that feeling sad or angry is just the negative energy coming up, and that they should work through it, or just let it go. After class, a girl came up to me and told me that my class was the first one she had taken in months after angrily stopping classes due to very similar depressing experiences. She was relieved to have me talk about this in class and said she would definitely be resuming her practice.

The book I’m reading is called Infinite Vision, and tells how Aravind became a leader in the medical field of eye-care. Ask anyone who knows its founder, “Dr. V” and they will tell you that his spirituality, and its affect on his staff is what makes Aravind so special. Not the unique tiered pricing system which offers the option of surgery for free, not the state-of-the-art lens manufacturing plant they started from scratch in rural India, not the physical ability of Aravind surgeons that repeatedly out-perform doctors in the West. I think it is any teacher’s disposition to inspire their students in such a manner that the content of the lesson becomes secondary to the spirit shared by teacher.

From the book — “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

While zumba music blasts in the room next to us, and the sound of weights dropping heavily to the floor above us wakes my students from their savasana stupor, I wonder if I’ve been just teaching poses, or if I’ve been dropping hints at the immensity of this ocean.

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