Saturday, October 9, 2010


t has been several days since last I updated this blog. I have been super busy and in deeply involved in all kind of fun activities and I have hardly sat down to catch my breath, much less to write. And when I did have a chance to sit down it was generally at a time when there was no internet connection to be had. Anyhoo--

It’s hard to actually go back and get everything up to speed and fill in all the blanks.

I suppose the highlights are that the Teacher Training in Tucson ended on a very strong note. It was a very powerful two weeks and gave me a lot to work with and to think about for myself as a teacher. We had a very strong and mature group of teachers in the training and their capacity for honest self- assessment and reflection was very high. This, like I have mentioned in previous entries made for some deep and revealing discussions that really stayed with me throughout our time together.

As I grow as a teacher it is more and more clear to me what a multi-faceted process of Work on Self that teaching yoga is. On one level, it seems pretty basic- we teach people the yoga postures and some of the philosophy that informs the practice and we cultivate community. How hard could that be? But much more than that definitely seems to be going on in any given class, workshop or training. These innocent-looking poses seem to unlock a lot of passion, feeling, insight and opportunity to grow and change. And the intimacy of all that is going on makes for enlightening and sometimes complex and frustrating interpersonal dynamics. (I actually did not experience any of these frustrating interpersonal dynamics during these weeks of training but the topic came up a fair amount as we traversed the teacher training curriculum and shared about the intricacies of managing the Seat of the Teacher.)

The process of transference in the classroom is a topic that is on my mind a lot these days anyway. In our closing circle one of the trainees told the group that while he is not particularly proud of this part of himself, he is aware that when he meets people, he immediately forms an opinion of them and creates an idea about how people are going to act and then many times spends the training dismantling that impression and getting to know who people really are.

That whole process is called transference and it is happening all time. Like this very honest and insightful person shared, we meet people and form an impression about them. This impression is generally influenced by our patterns and samskaras that go all the way to childhood. Generally, we don’t like people because they remind us in some unconscious way of someone who made us feel bad as a child and we like those people who remind us in some unconscious way of people who made us feel loved and honored as a child. (And while this is not a blame game by any means, generally both of these are- yep, you guessed it-- Mom and Dad! Keep in mind that Mom and Dad may have been holding us in the highest regard a on the day we perceived their look to mean that we were a nuisance and so forth. This is seriously not a blame game because it is about our impressions not about what was actually said or done to or for us.)

So anyway, there we are with all these positive and negative impressions within us and our emotional body and we meet another person. Well, like I said, these historical impressions guide a lot of our current impressions, feelings and decisions and so on. And the dynamic gets further complicated when you add in a teacher-student power differential. A person with historical impressions of not being noticed comes to yoga and a teacher compliments the person on the mat next to them and fails to say something to them and that historical impression gets activated and they feel disregarded by the teacher and feelings of hurt and anger follow. A person has impressions that say “one mistake and you are not loveable” comes to yoga class, gets adjusted in a posture and that impression gets activated and they feel like the teacher is critical, unfair and they themselves feel unworthy. And so on.

And of course, the teacher has all of their patterns also. If a teacher has “Mom and Dad didn’t listen to me” samskaras, for instance, all kinds of things can come up for a teacher when students are not doing what they are asking for in the classroom. If a teacher has a strong internalized message about “don’t make anyone upset” then how happy is a teacher going to feel when a student doesn't like their class or something they shared, etc.? And on it goes.

Most teacher trainings I have been to over the years have focused on making sure that we, as teachers, know how sensitive our students are and how powerful are words and actions can be as teachers and the message has always been about “be careful as a teacher.” I think this is good advice. I really do. Sensitivity and awareness are key tools in our trade. I also think it is only part of the story because as soon as we start getting overly focused on trying to figure out how not to offend anyone in the classroom not only do we get enrolled in a pretty dysfunctional way of life as a teachers but soon we are going to have to see how hopeless that very task is. With 30 people in a classroom, 30 different sets of samskaras at play, one cannot possibly predict the myriad ways that each person in the room might get offended, hurt or upset by something we say, do or don’t say or do. It’s too big.

All we can do as a teacher or a student is to look at our reactions and claim them as our own and step out of the blame game by tracing our reactions back to the source of the original upset to the root cause of the original upset, to the root cause of the pattern. This is the path of the yogi, after all, not the path of the ordinary human. The yogic path is a path of accountability for one's actions and responses with the recognition that life is truly not coming at us from the outside in.

So- more on this another day. After the teacher training, I came home for a day and had a visit to Lululemon for a lovely shopping trip to get an outfit for YOGASM and for my upcoming photo shoot. Kelly and I had lunch with Mom and Dad and then I packed and then we made our way to YOGASM which was a lot of fun. There are so many things to say about the event but I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with MC Yogi and the way he Kelly made a video you can watch.

Click here to watch it.

After YOGASM, Kelly and I came home, went to bed and then got up around 4am the next day to catch a plane to New Jersey. So far we are having a most excellent time here at South Mountain Yoga. More on that to follow. Time to get to some email I have fallen behind on.

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