This giant blossom dropped onto the driveway from one of the flowering trees growing in my yoga teacher’s garden last month.
He bent over to pick it up and held the colorful blossom in his hands so that it reflected the sunlight falling through the upper branches of the trees.
Jaye Martin is as masterful a gardener as he is a yoga teacher, and his entire yard is a garden devoted to flowers and bushes, ferns and trees, a lush world of greenery and colors that can take your breath away.
Often at the start of class, he’ll share stories of working in his garden to set a theme for the class that he’s about to teach.
It’s as if he’s planting us, his students, as if we are flowers that he’s encouraging to bloom while in his care.
For the duration of the class he’ll give us the same care and nurture us with the same gentleness and kindness that he shows his plants.
And somehow, magically, we are no longer his students but plants that he is helping to grow.
When he leads us through a series of sun salutes, he showers us with attention in the same way he might water all his plants, making sure each of us has enough water, enough fertilizer, enough rich earth in which to put down roots.
It’s as if each of us is a plant that he’s noticed and helps to grow with grace and compassion toward the light.
Sometimes during class he will offer a hands-on adjustment, and his hands will help us feel more secure in the pose, more rooted to the earth, as we explore unknown paths that we’ve never traveled before.
His hands hold the flower in this photo with such gentleness, care, and devotion, which are the same qualities that he brings to all of his classes in order to embrace the hearts of his students.
He is the kind of teacher who inspires his students to see themselves as flowers opening to the light.
And with his guidance and care, we can open to new, unfamiliar poses, and we can see each pose filled with possibilities.
By the end of class, we can begin to feel a tiny seed within ourselves, hidden, preparing to emerge into the light, radiant, aglow with the joy of life, ready to enter the world.
Practice Journal: When was the last time you noticed the way a teacher helped nurture you in a challenging pose? How did your teacher share his or her wisdom with you? What qualities might describe his or her teaching style? Write: 10 minutes.