Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday Morning

All right- Tuesday Morning.

I spent most of the day working at my computer and catching up on correspondences and organizing some future plans. My friend Karen and I once discussed the enormous administrative work of being a yoga teacher. It still shocks me how much time is required at a computer to teach yoga!

I did manage to get a very important file downloaded and successfully opened on my mac and so that was a big victory. I have a final round of edits to do on my book and so that is a top agenda item for today.

I met Anne at 3:45 yesterday for a visit to Peggy Kelly's Iyengar Yoga class. That was fun. Crazy sequence. Not crazy in the sense that it was bizarre or anything but I would have to title that class as "The Shortest Distance to Scorpion Pose" so it was crazy in that I was quite well prepared for some deep poses but not in the conventional way I prepare.

Sun Salutations- 10 minutes or so
headstand work with blocks
jathara parivarttonasana
Twisting prep on floor
sirsasana with twisting variations
vira One work at the wall- focusing mostly on getting the soleus to release
Down Dog with feet in baseboards to root heels
ustrasana- 2X
scorpion with chair
urdhva danurasana 3X
bharadvajasana in chair
maricyasana variation in chair
headstand dropover-3X
handstand dropover- 3X
ardha halasana

I am definitely used to doing more to prep for those poses but oddly, that sequence worked perfectly. Long holds, the twisting was useful and my back bends felt great. Go figure.

It is always fun to get to familiar poses in new ways. I enjoy watching my mind have its commentary about how its all going to go. Like yesterday I was heading into the ustrasanas thinking, "no way" and lo and behold easy-peasy. Same thing as we headed into the scoprion chair work I was like, "I am not ready for this, we didn't even stretch our quads, etc." and then, there I was, no problem. So fun to see how much of whether or not I am ready for something may simply exist in my mind and not in my body. Manouso used to always say, "this is an exercise in consciousness" so I guess that its largely in the mind is precisely the point!

I see that in my students a lot. It can really throw people for a loop to approach something in a new way. Of course,t here are plenty of students who hate to approach things the same way all the time also. But in general, I actually find that once students have a certain mastery with a pose approaching it from one angle, they are hard pressed to give it up and explore other options. Something about giving up familiar certainty and success for a temporary phase of unfamiliarity and flailing can be pretty confrontational to the mind.

The dynamic also comes up a lot in people's discussions about what they like/want in a yoga class. So often I hear people describe class as though it is a made-to-order sandwich as opposed to an classroom or dynamic laboratory. So often a "good class" is seen as one that met their expectations in terms of what is familiar and what immediately accomplishable as opposed to a "good class" being that class that challenged, opened the box, took a different route and provided food for thought and fuel for practice.

I get it. I really do. We have just so much time and energy in a day and after a long day of work I completely understand that people want something they can count on in a predictable way. No problem there. No big shock that formualic sequenced classes are popular. I am not saying there is a thing wrong with that. I see tremendous benefit in that approach. I am just saying it's a good thing to be conscious within ourselves about what is really driving our preferences and choices and to understand what we really mean when we say a class is good or not.

And I must also say that I am finding my classes full these days of brave explorers and curious seekers and people willing to abandon the way they always do something to increase their understanding, proficiency and expertise. I think that is also a cool thing about teaching yoga. If we keep teaching how we think yoga should be taught then the people who want what we are doing will find us and have a place that fits for them. If we keep trying to make our class a "good class" based on other people's definitions without examining what our own criteria is and what we are hoping to accomplish as teachers, then not only will be chasing around something pretty impossible, we will fail to provide the students who want and need what we have with a place to find it.

So like I said, I have now been doing what I do here long enough that there are some pretty awesome folks who are supporting my classes and coming for what I do and I have less and less of those conversations that run like, "but I wish you played music" or "but why don't you flow more" or "I wish it wasn't so hard" and so on. It's good company for sure.

more tomorrow.


authentic self yoga said...

so excited for your new book !

Christina Sell said...

me too.

Mara said...

OMG I miss Peggy Kelly's classes. What a sequence! I have been hearing/reading quite a bit lately on the theme "yoga is not a made-to-order sandwich." So true, so true.