How a fly helped me realize my dharma.

During most of the month of October, a fly took up residence in the studio. This little guy’s presence was so consistent that we named him Seth, after Jeff Goldblum’s character in the 1986 cinematic masterpiece (not!) The Fly.

Those who attended classes during those weeks can attest to the fly’s presence. In landing on every single student, I’ve got to wonder if he thought he was being friendly: “Oh, hello! It’s good to see you again,” I can imagine him thinking. “I haven’t seen you since last week.”

My first inclination was to smash it with a newspaper….. But. We’re yogis. And we’re supposed to practice ahimsa, non harming. And: I’m the owner of this studio; certainly I couldn’t hurt a fly!

Several of us attempted the catch and release technique, but despite our best efforts, none of us could capture the little guy. He was quick!


I knew the creature was bothering students, and I felt the need to provide our students with a pleasant environment, but I felt the need to walk the yoga walk. Never have I suffered so over the life of a fly. It was absurd.

My great grandmama Watson would’ve looked at me plum sideways. I can picture her, fanning herself on the porch in the heat of a South Carolina August day: “Child! You betta done kill that fly,” she would’ve exclaimed, in her think Southern accent. “It might right lay eggs in the flour.” But then again, Mama Watson came of age around the turn of the last century, when the soul of an insect was of little concern compared to, say, weevils in her cotton crops. I’m sure she’s rolling her eyes at me in the hereafter.

The fly finally met his maker when, after a particularly crowded Sunday morning class, a student had enough and smushed it with a tissue. (Thank you, Ann.)

The moral of the story, of course, is about fulfilling one’s duty (or dharma, in Hinduism). As the keeper of Twist Yoga, it is my duty to provide a sacred space for our students. I should’ve done what I had to do to live my dharma. Instead, I was a wuss about removing the fly because I feared folks wouldn’t see me as a “good yogi.”

The same lesson is taught in The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred text that is on our teacher training reading list. A Cliff Notes* version is that Arjuna, a warrior, finds himself in the precarious position of defending the crown, even though he didn’t want to fight and kill. In a series of conversations with Lord Krishna, he comes to realize that his dharma in his life is to fight so that he may restore good in the battle between good and evil.

So, the next time you’re considering a decision – big or small – consider your dharma. Would the consequences of that decision align with your duty in life?

* Many thanks to Twist Yogini Heather, who helped me understand the “Gita” during a recent lunch at Red Twig. She put it in terms I could understand: “Your dharma right now is that of being a mother, right?” She asked. “So, running off with an Italian underwear model wouldn’t fit with that dharma….. even though it would be really great!” — (There’s a reason she’s the lead teacher of Twist Yoga Teacher Training with Heather Falkin!)