Shortly before yoga last night, I scribbled down the names of my students on a pink heart-shaped Post-it, then made a quick stop to the toilet. I casually stuck the Post-it in my mouth to do my pre-teaching rituals, after which I briskly removed the list from my lips. Now if this was a cheap, fake Post-it, this would not have been a problem. But this was a sticky 3M original, so, well, rrrrip. There was a stinging sensation in my lower lip, and then hot liquid began to pool on said surface. I sharply turned to look at my reflection: I was a vampire yogini. Keeping my wits, a pulled a tissue and began teaching my class, blotting my lip every few seconds, and seeing a bright red spot on my Kleenex each time. I wondered why some of the students looked shocked as I spoke, so I explained what had happened. I put them in a heart-opening supine pose, and asked them to close their eyes while I took the tissue box from the bathroom. I took another glance in the mirror and saw the blood has spread to my teeth. No wonder some of them looked at me in disgust; I looked like I bit off the head of a live chicken!
On any other day, I might have choked and given in to the distraction. But last night, even if the metallic taste of blood kept reemerging in my mouth, and the bright red spots continued to stain my tissue, I knew there was nothing else I could do but blot, breathe, and teach. Blot, breathe, and teach. The discomfort of any challenge goes away when you focus on the goodness of many other things around you. In my case it was the positive energy of the students, the support of a friend and fellow teacher who joined the class, and the motivation to bring the students to a better place.
By the end of my class, it was like the bloody challenge never happened. I still have some souvenirs, though: a stinging sensation when I eat anything salty or sour, plus the Post-it with my students’ names and bits of lip skin still stuck to it.