Optative

I’m learning the optative in Sanskrit. My textbook tells me “the optative is a verb form that indicates possibility. It can be translated as ‘should’, ‘would’, ‘could’, ‘ought’ or ‘may’. I found sentence 3 in the first exercise ironically amusing: “The teacher ought to be content”. After all, the last time I had met with my yoga teacher things fell apart a bit and I left feeling that he was anything but content. In fact I felt inadequate and as though I was just one big frustration to him.

So we met recently for an overdue conversation. It was a real deep-and-meaningful, probing what modern yoga practices are, reflecting on student-teacher relationships and endeavors, we talked about change and progress, about witnessing and allowing, seeing and being seen, and ultimately something perhaps about trust and love…

It was a conversation that I’ve been wanting to have, but also fearing. Am I allowed to ask these things and have these doubts? Aren’t I supposed to pay my fifteen quid, come to class in my fancy leggings, and go off home with a smile on my face? Yoga is often marketed as some kind of panacea, so why do I encounter so many problems and doubts on my mat? Am I doing it wrong? And if I can’t trust my teacher, am I a terrible student?

Yep, big questions. You can see why I didn’t really want to raise them. And oftentimes things we dread turn out to be not as bad as we expect. And so it was with these conversations. Yes, I came away, as always, with more questions than answers, but I also found a renewed and deepened respect for my teacher who listened to all my concerns patiently and graciously, heard a lot of criticism from me, and was honest about some situations he(we) might have handled differently.

Through our dialogue we eventually arrived at a slightly fragile place of mutual understanding. Will it hold up? I can’t know, but I trust we’ll both put our hearts into it and I hope that will support us in our endeavours.

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