We had a great day yesterday here in Oklahoma City.
We had a 3-hour morning class for all-levels focused on shoulder principles and working on setu bandhasana and bhujangasana- along with chataranga, lots of standing pose work and so forth. We did a 2 1/2-hour all levels class in the afternoon with deep hip opening, hamstring stretches and worked on twists like parivritta trikonasana, maricyasana 1 and 3 and made a great foray into urdhva prasarita eka padasana at the wall and padmasana.
Both classes were all levels and everyone did a good job applying the "bus stop theory of practice." (For those of you who have not taken a workshop or class with me this is the bus stop theory of practice: Yoga is like a great bus journey. In every pose there are a series of stops and you always want to make sure you get off the bus in a safe neighborhood.)
Also I began the weekend talking about what all-levels actually means in the fine print. It means that for some of the group the workshop will move way too slow at times. And for some of the group the workshop will move way too fast at times. For some of the group the postures will somewhat easy. For some of the group the postures will feel too hard. For only a few people in the room will the workshop feel like "just what they wanted and needed!"
I said that kind of jokingly and everyone laughed, which I thought was a good sign. And while it is not the whole truth of an all-levels experience, there is certainly a kernel of truth in it, as anyone knows who has gone to all-levels classes. But then again, all classes are all-levels in a way because we are all so different. But my point is that when we show up for a workshop or a public class it is just not a made-to-order experience. There is no way it can be. At home, in our own practices, it can be made-to-order because we are the ones who are running the show. But once we put ourselves in a group environment, it is a different game and "having just what we want" is no longer a viable option to count on. Of course, sometimes the Lords of Yoga smile on us and the class ends up feeling "just perfect" for us which is a great and wonderful thing.
I think this is why teaching yoga is such a good way to work on ourselves. I mean, I love it when everyone around me is happy (particularly with me) and if I had my way I would want everyone (including me) to be happy and get what they want and so forth. It can be very challenging to my psychological script when I know people do not like what I am doing, how I am or what I am offering and yet, the reality of yoga teaching is that in general, you can count on not everyone in the room enjoying themselves, the class, its content, the presentation, etc... So it is an excellent way to challenge and confront a script of people-pleasing because as a yoga teacher I get to practice staying in my own center in the face of differing public opinion. It is good work, really. Not easy, not necessarily enjoyable, but valuable nonetheless.
Plus once you really get clear about the impossiblity of keeping everyone happy you see the futility of a such a script. Just think about the heat issue, for instance. For everyone in a room to be a comfortable temperature, everyone would need their own climate-controlled area and we would have to practice yoga in little Plexiglas cubicles, each equipped with their own thermostat and so forth. (Seriously. Think about it.) And so in seeing the futility of the people-pleasing script, one sees the necessity of working with one's personal discomfort that arises when not everyone is pleased. So like that.
(disclaimer here: NOT ONE person in the workshop complained or expressed dissatisfaction or was in anyway less than attentive or enthusiastic. They all practiced great studentship. They really did. I am talking here about larger issues not specific to this weekend!)
All right, we have back bends and arm balances on deck this morning in an Int./Adv. class. I will have time to do a practice this afternoon and then eat lunch and head to the airport and then home.