When You’re Supposed to be Teaching Yoga But All You Want to do is Make Jokes

Last night I couldn’t fall asleep because I was thinking ad nauseam about the video shoot I’m doing this week. My mind kept running and racing – it wouldn’t stop “preparing” for the two classes I’ll be teaching today.

But the absolutely ridiculous thing is, I wasn’t thinking about the health benefits I want to convey, or the alignment points I hope to precisely communicate… my mind was concocting an elaborate joke to make in one of the classes onset.

Sometimes after a series of challenging poses I like to offer a little “discharge” moment. I’ll invite the students to shake their bodies out, or swing their arms around, or even “noodle out” (wobble their whole body around like an overcooked noodle – you should try it, it feels great).

But last night I was designing something new – a moment when me and the other yogis onset will start doing the robot, and keep doing it, until I get “stuck”. It will be like I rusted over and can’t move. Even my mouth will freeze. So, like a ventriloquist talking out the side of my mouth, I will call out for help from one of the yogis in the background.

He will have to come up and “rescue” me, pushing my body parts back up into place. I will thank him, then start singing the Dionne Warwick song That’s What Friends Are For, but add the word “yoga” into it so I’d sing, “that’s what yoga friends are for… to help us through it…”

As I kept thinking this through, and how I could prepare for it without telling the producers or director of the video shoot, I got more and more awake. Damn! I thought. I cannot stay up all night, losing my rest obsessing over this robot joke!

So I mapped it out for myself (I’m going to tell one of the background yogis in advance to prepare to come save me when I get into rusted-over robot mode). Then I turned on a hardcore non-duality teacher, Paul Hedderman, to help me sleep (there’s nothing like being told over and over that your mind doesn’t really exist to help get you to stop obsessing and pass out).

I admit it. I have a problem. I am supposed to be teaching yoga. But sometimes I just want to make jokes. This is true in many of my classes. But as far as I can tell, laughter is as yoga as yoga gets.

When a whole group of people spontaneously bust out laughing, it’s a moment of unity, of connection, of unfiltered joy. Ideally someone in the group snorts while laughing which usually extends the laughter at least five seconds. What else is there? What’s more important than that? And unlike spensy yoga pants, laughter is free man.

But I’ll also admit that my jokes don’t always work. Sometimes I fall FLAT on my FACE. As such, will you please wish me luck on pulling off the robot joke?

I gotta go take a shower now. Although one of my favorite things about shooting on video is that no one knows if you start to smell a little ripe… 😉


Photo of my dear friend Yuuki and me by Jill Futter

*I’m @arielkiley on Instagram

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