Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Morning

Well, I am delighted to see the sun shining this morning. I got up, did my meditation, answered some email and checked in with the online mentor group and answered some questions about heart-based themes and now I am checking in here. So heart-based themes- the plight of almost every Anusara Yoga teachers existence. So interesting that I have had so many conversations about them recently.

It seems like there is a natural process that every teacher goes through- sometimes for long periods of time (like 5 years) and sometimes for short periods of time- (like months) where they have to make their peace with the fact that this requirement is not going anywhere and that they are going to have to use heart-based language if they want to be an Anusara Yoga teacher. It is somewhat predictable that people will struggle with and have to come to terms with the facts and feelings that "yes, if can feel forced and yes, we do not always feel authentic and yes, it seems like adding something unnecessary when yoga makes you happier as it is and also why the f*#k is it so hard to do and why do I completely just space out the heart theme once I teach alignment" and so on the list goes.

Now, I totally hope I do not sound critical. I know sometimes I sound critical when I am trying to sound compassionate! Seriously, I do not feel critical about it. I have been teaching people to teach Anusara Yoga for like 6 years now and I have watched the same struggle with a few variations on the theme (hah!) enough times that I know it is part of the process and part of the process that most people have in common. And the reality is no matter how forced it feels, how much you hate doing it, etc. and so forth, this requirement is not going away! (I mean that compassionately also...)

So one thing that I am thinking about from my current vantage point on the subject is that most people over-think heart-based themes. I have not been to any yoga class in any tradition in a long time where there was no mention of some larger scheme or where the yoga teacher was without inspired, heart-felt wisdom they wanted to share with their students about the practice. So really, the raw material is there to work with. Just about every yoga teacher I know has a sincere love of practice, transformation and a desire to serve others through sharing of this knowledge and passion. So that is the thing about making it authentic.

If you teach from what you are passionate about- not what I am passionate about, not what your teacher is passionate about, not what you think you are supposed to be saying as an Anusara Yoga teacher, not what you think your students will think is cool- then your worlds will ring with authenticity. Even students who do not agree AT ALL with what you are saying will be inspired by your passion and zeal (so long as you are not preaching at them but are sharing your love and your enthusiasm.)

For instance, I remember passing Marjorie Nass's certification video and she had just gotten a puppy and her whole theme was about the lessons she was learning from training her puppy. Seriously, go with what you love. Marjorie loved her puppy. It was quite compelling. (Shout out to Marjorie in the Big Apple!)

Secondly- I think most people are making it much too hard on themselves. Somehow we get the impression we have to write a dissertation or quote scripture or be really smart to do this well and we really can over-think it and worry and fret about it all.

Here is the thing to keep in mind: When you have the guiding ideal (for instance- the puppy needed firm, loving, consistent boundaries in order to learn discipline and be a more enjoyable companion) and you come up with a heart-based theme- a feeling that embodies the idea all we are talking (firmness or loving or both) then all you have to do is slide the feeling word into the instructions that you are ALREADY giving. You do not need to make up a whole extra "heart-based instruction." What does that mean? Well, "firm your muscles lovingly" is a heart-based instruction. You are already going to say firm your muscles...just add a feeling.

See how it will work with any UPA you want to tie it to in any given class...

Open to Grace- Surrender the weight of your pelvis to earth until the foundation of your posture is firm. Now, lovingly lift and brighten your inner body. (You are already going to say the surrender your weight part and the lift your inner body part, just add a feeling.)

Muscle Energy- Lovingly hug your muscles to the bone...(Active instruction) feel the firm embrace.... (Passive instruction) You are already going to say hug your muscles and feel the result, just add a feeling word.

Inner spiral- Turn your upper thighs in, now- firmly and lovingly move them back and widen them apart. (get it? add the feeling.)

Outer Spiral- (In a standing pose) scoop your tail bone, now lovingly and firmly outer spiral your front leg until you feel your front sitting bone draw back toward the mid-line and your outer hips tone. (Just add the feeling)

Organic Energy- root down firmly into the earth and extend up lovingly. (again, just add the feeling.)

Now certainly there are other ways to do this and ways to get super deep, very creative and poetic and metaphysical with the theme that we all enjoy playing with. But if you are struggling, just get the hang of inserting the adverb or the adjective into what you are already saying and you are well on your way to using heart based language. Just. Like. That.

Have at it.


Marcia Tullous said...

Thanks. You Rock!


Bonnie said...

Dear Christina,
So glad you are getting sunshine, we have not seen it here in quite some time. Really testing our ability to remember that it is always shining somewhere.
Thank you for taking the time and care to write your words each day. It feels like a Teacher pep talk every morning.
Thanks again and see you in Driggs,
Bonnie in Montana

Karlie said...

Thanks so much! I really appreciate this entry.

Olga Rasmussen said...

Every teacher that has struggled with theme-ing should read this! Insightful, and beautiful!

Blessings of love,

Elisa said...

Wish I read this pep talk early this morning, rather than now, as I have spent the past few hours overthinking tonight's theme. Which changed three times in the course of it. So I overthought three themes already today. Sigh.

Betsey Downing said...

Hi Christina -- Great blog about teaching with a theme and heart quality. I love how you make it so understandable and accessible!
Love, Betsey