We had a good opening start day yesterday. As is typical we began with introductions and we spent some time clarifying intentions for the week. We have a very lovely group of folks- many of whom did Part One Immersion with me last year and many who are joining in this time. We spent a little time on the Cycles of Creation and the guiding goddess archetypes for each phase of the cycle. Then we launched into a strong back bend practice.
It is so interesting teaching people Anusara Yoga all over the world because there are so many things that everyone knows and then so many things that vary community to community, depending on the local teacher's teaching style, the community's access to larger venues and workshops and so on. Add in a language difference and cultural difference and all of a sudden, teaching a basic class is not so basic! At any rate, first mornings to me are about getting to know the group, getting them used to me and my teaching style, helping them get bonded and comfortable with each other and so on. We did a strong practice but nothing to technical or foreign. Strong surya namaskars, handstand, pinca mayurasana, strong standing postures, hip openers and quad stretches, some back bends, some forward bends and twists. The general template. Basics.
After lunch we talked about Shri, beauty and refinement and tied that into the 3 A's the 5 shaktis and the group did a little writing and sharing. We did a very technical asana class in the afternoon based on questions, injuries, challenges that students were having in the poses from the morning. It is always so fun to watch a group really wake up to the fact that yoga does not have to hurt! I think for so many people, the alignment at first seems tedious or slow or like it is holding them back from the joy of the movement, etc. But when it begins to dawn on people that the pain they have been enduring in their postures every time they practice can be remedied by the application of these principles, by small shifts in their placement, by more engagement, etc. then what happens is a deluge of questions like "What about this pose?" and "What about my low back in that pose?" and so on. Good times.
I think that is the thing about selling alignment to people- it has to be relevant. And what makes it relevant to different people varies. For me, I got started in Iyengar Yoga and so alignment was what you got. I mean if you didn't find it relevant, then good luck staying in that practice. I immediately grokked the profundity of the alignment on all levels. I had no trouble seeing that the minute details were linked to the larger play of consciousness. I always saw it as a way to anchor my attention while aligning my body. My efforts were not always infused with compassion or love, mind you, but I understood what it was about.
I think, too, it helped that I was brought up in gymnastics where we were graded on the execution of optimal form. There was a right way to do the routines and the various "tricks". Some of that was external- like for competition. Some of that was functional. For instance, if you are doing a back flip and you do not take your head back at just the right time, you won't flip, you will fall on your butt or worse- your back or your head. So, it was very familiar to me to do what my teacher said because when it came to athletics and such, I was used to being coached and I really liked it.
Anyway- I understand that many people get many years into yoga before they are exposed to an alignment-oreinted approach and that transition can be rough for a lot of reasons. Truth be told, I have watched a lot of boring, long demos in my life to learn what I know. I have spent a lot of hours in yoga classes where there was no sweat, no heat from movement, no "pay off pose" that day, just lots of details, technique and watching. I get it. Believe me. But I do not look at my yoga education on a daily basis. I know some days and classes and workshops are going to be "great practices" and others are going to be more technical education for the intellect. Some experiences will inspire my heart. I am not so concerned about what is happening in the short term- I take a much longer view because I can look back over time and see what the various combinations of experiences has yielded. And I am happy with that. After all, we have to educate all three aspects of who we are - body, mind and heart and it doesn't always happen at the same time in the same class, etc.
We ended the day with some pranayama and meditation and a long savasana. Good times. I got to bed early, slept well and since it is light so early here, I woke up with plenty of time to meditate and write this morning. All right. More tomorrow.