Living without expectations is one of the most powerful and difficult teachings I have received from my many wonderful Yoga teachers. But what is that exactly? Yoga philosophy also says that knowledge without experience is not real knowledge. According to that at least I have experienced the treasures of non expectations when I returned to Brazil in July this year for a holiday. I had made no plans for 3 weeks I would be in Brazil just happy for the simple fact I was going to stay with my family, speak my language and I would see my people. I had in the back of my mind that I might do something in terms of Yoga but had no plans at all. I just asked the universe if it was meant to be I was ready.
While visiting with a friend, she introduced me to her cousin, Arlete, who was studying Yoga at one of the big universities in Sao Paulo. Through her came invitations to participate in many different classes, one in particular being very special. I was invited exclusively to watch a Yoga class for young boys aged between 16 to 18 years old, detained in a youth prison. Wow! Of course I would like to go. I didn’t think that it would be dangerous or have any other thoughts that people living in a violent big city usually have. I was just so excited about the opportunity.
On a sunny Thursday morning I woke up happy and headed to the unit with an open heart. I was not intimidated at all. I met people with a smile on their faces and with no bars around – just two or three at strategic points. I got there very early and was waiting for my colleagues. I started to see some boys. They always walked in line and always said good morning Sir. I smiled to them naturally just from my happiness to be there. I could feel something very special was about to happen.
The classroom was small to accommodate the 12 boys and 4 other people that would watch the class. These other people sat down on chairs in front of the class to watch, while the boys were sitting on their mats waiting to start. For me it didn’t seem right just to watch the class and maybe from my Yoga instinct I just asked them for a little space and sat with them on the floor. They were open for the class. There was a bit of difficulty to do the poses but they were there. They looked at me and asked, how can you do that? Look, look… they were having fun.
The class finished and I got very emotional and said to the teacher how lucky he was to be teaching Yoga to these boys. Then he asked, “Would you like to teach the next class”? Long pause… Wow again. I have never taught Yoga in my native tongue, Portuguese. Beto Propheta said “There is always the first time for everything”.
The second group was considered the “bad” boys. They came into the classroom with an attitude that I now understand was just a defense. Also, just men would teach them.
I started my class but they weren’t with me. Usually to keep these boys sitting quietly for 5 minutes is expecting a lot. But I decided to keep teaching Yoga from my heart. I asked them to connect with their mind and try to understand how it was interconnecting with their bodies. After 10 minutes they were all with me and the class flowed freely from there. More and more they were with me – concentrated, focused and amazingly “in and now”.
Each time I looked at them I just felt love, unconditional love. I could see each of them just as a human being like me with feelings of love, hate, jealously, fear, desires, etc – feelings everyone has. It didn’t cross my mind for one single second of what they done to be there. I just could feel an individual consciousness as important for the world as you and I are. I was experiencing Union, Yoga in that moment. I lost track of the time like everyone else in class. But the best was still to come, the time of relaxation – my favorite time in class had come.
I was feeling so much love, the love I had experienced just a few times throughout life such as I felt when my daughter Sofia was born. I was experiencing true love. The message for that relaxation was unconditional love, the pure love we all are but due to our ego, mind and physical existence we are unable to experience fully. I tried from my heart to connect with their most inner self and bring about that love everyone has from existence, but have forgotten about. The love those boys may have never experienced from their parents. I just wanted to make them realize that any indifference, judgment or violence that they had been experienced from their family, friends or society was insignificant in front of the immensity of love. No one can judge.
I have been practicing Yoga and meditation for many years, trying to experience Samadhi – bliss. But this time I wasn’t trying anything. It took a few minutes till they came back from the relaxation. They were really relaxed and I could feel they were feeling the same as I was. When I opened my eyes full of tears, my colleagues who were watching the class were crying also and very emotional. The boys and I couldn’t take our eyes from each other, the union was keeping us connected. The real Yoga for me really happened there. I gave a hug to each of them from my heart and thanked them for being there with me and allowing me to experience such happiness.
For as much as I try I won’t be able to express and describe fully what happened in that room. A life changing experience – and I have changed after that. I have connected to myself so immensely after that. Yoga has become much more profound for me and that has given me the power to keep honest with my heart and the way I want to teach and experience Yoga. I will be always loyal to that experience – for me the real experience of Yoga.