A dharma talk is an “inspiring” personal story, poem, song or quote that demonstrates how to  take yoga off the mat. It can convey a common challenge, a simple joy, or one of life’s familiar annoyances. Dharma talks feel personal yet speak to a greater universal truth. Many teachers,  including all of my teachers, start their yoga classes with a dharma talk. 

I have been teaching yoga at Sadhana for about 15 years. I believe the dharma talk is an important part of class but I have always found it very challenging. I’m never sure what to say and how much to share about my personal thoughts and perspectives or if they are relevant. It is personally challenging for me to feel like I am capable of “inspiring” students. (Sometimes I just want to cry and often I do, tears of pain and/or joy.)

I am always interested in growing and challenging myself, therefore I try to find help and support from those around me. So, I had an idea…

Over the years I have been fortunate to develop a group of students who attend my weekly  class regularly. We have all become acquainted with each other in class, mostly through our yoga practice. I wanted to try to develop a deeper connection between myself and my students and also between my students themselves. I decided to ask each yogi if they would be interested in presenting their own dharma talk each week in class for the next few months. I thought this could give us all a glimpse into each other’s personal life experience, providing a deeper understanding of each other and in turn our collective world.

The students were so thoughtful and inspiring. When they agreed, I did not give them very much guidance; I suggested that they share a personal thought or experience with a week to prepare. It is not easy to speak in front of a room filled with your community, especially from your heart, especially if you are not accustomed to orating. 

The dharma talks surpassed all of my expectations. Each student shared their heart and soul. Their dharma talks included singing songs, poems, stories about yoga, our studio and teachers, philosophies, feelings of gratitude and deep personal experiences. They were all received with open hearts and deep appreciation. It was a joy to witness. 

I will definitely use this experience in one of my dharma talks, truly INSPIRING!

Dwayne teaches Yoga 2.0 and Yoga for Everybody at Sadhana. He has taught yoga in the Hudson Valley and beyond, incorporating chanting, asana, pranayama, and meditation. Dwayne is grateful to Sondra, Sadhana, and the yoga students here in Hudson for being given this opportunity to serve the community.