That first Tuesday night I was due to teach I had a nervous tummy and my head was spinning, rehearsing the theme for the class and trying to translate it in my head. Thanks to traffic and a lot of red lights, I arrived two minutes before it started and had no choice but to dive in head first. The sun had just set, men and women were gathered on the front porch chatting and drinking water and the field behind the studio made the land look endless.
“Atem muchanim le yoga?” I asked them if they were ready for yoga, motioning them to enter. One by one, the students filed in, smiling, greeting me warmly, curious if I was the sub. They knew Erel was away but had no idea what to expect.
I did my usual, asking each one his and her name, if they had any injuries I should know about. They answered as they unrolled their mats and took their places, sat and waited for me to begin. My voice was shaky.
“Cama mehem kvar asta yoga be’anglit o be safah acheret?” I asked how many of them had ever taken yoga in English or in another language. One of ten raised her hand. Then I introduced myself—name, country of origin, date of arrival. I told them this was my first time teaching in another language, in Hebrew, and to please bear with me. I asked them if anyone knew what Anusara meant, the definition. Some guessed but most were quiet. I explained it means open to grace, which can be otherwise understood as open your heart, open to the divine, whatever you want to call it, and that we were going to spend our time opening our hearts, physically. I further explained why that word touches me so deeply, that I, as a returning resident, one who has tried this living-in-Israel thing twice before, am working hard—off the mat—staying open to all the possibilities. And what better than this: yoga on a hot September night at sunset with an open field outside and sounds of nature drumming in our ears?
We sat tall, closed our eyes, chanted OM three times together and began our practice in what quickly became apparent to me as Hebrish. I spoke in Hebrew as long as I could, as much as possible, until I couldn’t, until I didn’t know the word or knew it but couldn’t pronounce it or pronounced it wrong and all I—we—could do was laugh.
That Tuesday night and the Friday afternoon and Tuesday night that followed put me on a yoga high. The students were as open to me and everything I had to offer as I was to them. After teaching at Techelet, I understood that I am a teacher regardless of what language I speak or where I live.