Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Morning

It was a very full day yesterday and kind of had the quality of a day off. Kelly and i spent the morning down in San Marcos at the river in our kayaks which is always really fun. We had lunch at Chipotle and then came home. I had planned to do some work but Kelly gave me an acupuncture treatment (which was great and very helpful) and then I had a brief check-in on some business with John Friend and Anne picked me up to go to Peggy's class.

Peggy's class was enjoyable- we did some veery interesting forward bend work and arm balance work featuring an excellent wall variation of utthita hasta padangusthasana , kurmasana, malasana, bhujapidasana, bakasana and parsva bakasana. I picked up some great tips and my poses felt great. Good times.

One thing of note in the class was that Ives taught a few poses during class. He is preparing for assessment and wanted to practice teaching some of the poses on his syllabus. In Iyengar Yoga, each level of certification has a syllabus of poses that the candidate is tested on. Anyway many of the poses we working on are on his syllabus and so he wanted to practice teaching them, get feedback and so on. something really struck me about it while he was teaching and the group was being very supportive that none of us -no matter what the method- ever get certified alone.

Getting certified, it seems, is a group endeavor. As students we stand on the shoulders of our senior teachers who guide us and share with us what they gleaned from their experience and we become, as teachers, a composite of our good training and our own creative expression which results from our personality, unique life circumstances and particular teaching challenges and opportunities. There is no way around it- find a good teacher and what you found was a good student who was brought through in the process by their teachers and who learned from their students. In almost no case does that good teacher exist in a vacuum or separate from their community of practitioners and teachers.

We talked about that some in our teachers session in Jackson this weekend. It is a very common part of the maturation process of teachers to break away from their teachers and to begin to find fault with the person who has been guiding them up to that point. Senior teachers all across the country this year have been telling me how their soon-to-be-certified teachers have stopped coming to class, seem much less happy when they are in class and once they start studying with John stop putting their local teacher in their bio or giving any credit to their original teachers and so on. (not kidding here- I hear a lot of stories!)

I think of it from a human development standpoint and it's kind of like the teenager who hates Mom and Dad for a while so that they can break away and find their own autonomy and independence. It can wreak all kinds of havoc in the interpersonal dynamic however as it is generally hard on both people involved. The up-and-coming teacher, for instance, feels limited, held back, bored and a kind of itching to step out in a fuller way and they are dealing with someone picking their video apart and making things hard at them right at the end of the certification preparations or someone else getting accolades they want for themselves. The senior teacher feels undervalued, cast aside, disrespected and a bit used as the student seems to find them no longer necessary.

Now I am not saying that we do not outgrow our teachers. I do think at times we do just that. Or our teachers growth and evolution is taking them in one direction and our own is moving in a certain direction and as much as those flows were at one time aligned, that may cease to be the case. That is definitely true. Also in Anusara yoga in a smaller studio, the senior teacher has an obligation to the whole of the student body and may be continually teaching basic principles, etc to their group because most people need it and after you have been around 5 years, those lessons are not as interesting or meaningful to you personally. And of course many people have enough extra time to either teach or to go to class but not both. All of this is true. I get all of that.

That is not what I am talking about here although it may be part of it. The process of growing up wasn't smooth for most of us the first time around and it isn't always smooth in the process of growing up as an Anusara teacher either. Yes, in some cases, it is smooth. And when it works according to the vision what we have is a rich, rewarding and inspiring sharing of knowledge, insight and transformation that evolves us personally and in my experience, actually evolves the method itself.That is the Vision.

But seriously, a lot of the time, we are dealing with the messy domain of human patterns and samskaras that keep us from actually realizing the vision directly. We are trudging through the malas of unworthiness, separation and fear-based feelings and we fall short of the inspiring and joyful vision of yogis helping each other be great. And my point-as it seems to be a lot these days- is that pretending something is happy and going well when it really isn't, doesn't really help us cope effectively with the land mines of human feelings we may be walking through on the way to the vision. To not acknowledge that the process gets prickly at times doesn't help us prepare adequately to handle the challenges inherent in the game.

So often in our method when things get prickly people say things to me like, "But I thought we were all supposed to get along" and they feel like the conflict is some sign of things not functioning well or right. I assert wholeheartedly, that it is only a sign of the transformational power of grace revealing what is standing in our way of the vision so we can move through it. The vision is not wrong, we are not wrong, we are simply in the domain of the malas and not the full expression of our heart.

And honestly, if we are all in our heart and we are all telling the truth, there is really very little evidence to suggest that we are going to be seeing everything the same way. Expecting a yoga utopia free of conflict is a bit childish, if you really think about it. It is like projecting all the things we wish had as children onto this thing called yoga community and then being disappointed when it doesn't function according to our unrealistic expectations.

Better, I think, that we be clear, realistic and yet still aim High. To me that is the yoga of community- to balance the realities of people- with all of our splendor and rough edges - coming together without slipping into cynicism, despair or remaining in the clouds in a dream-like state. Idealism must meet practicality and discernment on the Path.

All right. Enough said for now.

Sent from my iPad


dina said...

Christina - I LOVE this. Thank you for hitting the nail squarely on the head. I always breathe a sigh of relief after reading your posts.

Mike said...

Even identical twins do not have the same perspective on life because, from first principles, they see "things" differently, even if they're standing side-by-side.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing Christina, I think this is such an important topic.

Christina Sell said...

thanks for your comments. Its always nice to hear from folks. I agree, these themes are important and the more we know what we are dealing with in all of our relationships, the more we can learn to be skillful in our responses. This stuff is way harder than scorpion pose!