Thursday, January 27, 2011

Venice Beach Morning

Elena has the morning class at Yogaglo today so I am taking the morning for some personal time before we film YogaConvo this afternoon. Then we have a break and I teach from 6-7. It has been a great few days here in California. I so enjoy my time at Yogaglo and with the Los Angeles kula. It's fun to be with a seasoned, capable and fun-loving group of yogis who have always received. Me and my teaching so warmly.

There is something about that kind of reception and that kind of welcome that really does bring me into my heart and feel quite healing and expanding. One thing I think my personal work has helped me do over this last year is to notice when I am on the receiving end of such positive energy and to soften and consciously let it in and touch me deeply. I find that the more I do this, the more meaningful my life becomes. I consider this to be one of the great blessings of my work.

Of course, the flip side is also true and somewhat perilous if we get sucked into it. As yoga teachers we also receive negative energy, negative transference where people project unmet needs, unrealistic expectations and assign all kinds of negative meaning and traits to our personality quirks and simple comments. That, too, is also true. I sometimes marvel at the irony that, as a person who grew up suffering a lot with worry about what others would think of me and doing all kinds of gymnastics to change myself into who I thought everyone thought I should be, much of which was false, unrealistic and/or self-destructive, I became a yoga teacher. I think the job "yoga teacher" comes with a very long list of very high standards, expectations and ideals that are consciously and unconsciously projected onto it.

Someone told me once they were shocked to see their yoga teacher smoking a cigarette. Another student finds it totally intolerable that their yoga teacher loses their patience in class when the students do not pay attention. Another person was wrecked and disillusioned when their teacher got divorced. Add in a whole other set of expectations and disappointments when you deal with us and money and you realize as altruistic as we can sound we also have bills to pay and we do this for a living. So the list goes on. The opportunities to fall short of high ideals is endless and so are the opportunities to disappoint others.

I am pretty passionate about the high calling it is to practice yoga and how we are, as teachers, being asked (and hopefully asking ourselves) to ongoingly refine ourselves and grow into our most authentic, truest self. Each one of us is answering a high calling and hopefully doing our best to grow. And so that is our responsibility to yourselves and to the sanctity of the Path in my opinion- that we evolve and be the best stewards of the teaching possible.

I am also pretty passionate that students dismantle their unrealistic expectations that teachers be always compassionate, understanding, humble, generous, without anger, greed or vanity and so on. If we really pull on that thread a while, many times we can see that we are hoping the yoga teacher can be a "corrective experience" and give us something we feel like we didn't get from our parents, etc.

And sometimes the yoga teacher does give us the very thing that was "missing". It's just that 25 people in a room might need 25 different things and no one person can do that and as teachers we are going to hit the mark for some and not for others. As students we have to know that "corrective experiences" need to come from within as much as from without. And as passionate as I am that as teachers we grow into our high calling, I am equally passionate that as students we own our projections, expectations and take responsibility for our reactions to our teachers -both positive and negative.

So it's a Spanda as always. We have to let the good stuff in. We have to review the negative feedback for information about how to refine ourselves. We have to do our best. We have to know our best will disappoint others and we can learn not to get sucked into the story of someone's projected disappointment or disillusion. And on and on and on. This challenge is all about finding our midline, our center and staying steady there, in our offering and not taking 100% of our bearings from the outside because that will always be in flux.

One time, in a teacher training, John said, "pay more attention to sharing your love of the Path than to what people think of you and that will decrease your anxiety as a teacher."

So like that.

Sent from my iPad


JoY said...

Thank you for your insights. Very eloquent. I find myself on both sides of this conundrum of yoga, as a student and a teacher. Most recently I did a lot of reflection into why I got so bent out of shape with the applause in workshops after demonstrations of asanas by advanced students, and I realized I put so much into myself as a student and into that teacher... and I thought I was beyond comparing myself to others in classes and workshops! HAH! I guess it never ends, and we are always reminded to me mindful of where we are mentally, as well as respectful to others in the most human and compassionate ways we know.

Jennifer Fields YogaLifeWay said...

Wonderful post thank you. I've been reflecting a lot recently on what it means to be a teacher.
I love John's quote: One time, in a teacher training, John said, "pay more attention to sharing your love of the Path than to what people think of you and that will decrease your anxiety as a teacher."
Enjoy your LA time. I always return from California refreshed and renewed.

JoY said...

Yes-- that quote nails it!