Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Creative Tension

I can not believe it is Wednesday already.

We had Teacher Training in San Marcos over the weekend  which went really well. We worked a lot with the forms of the postures from Light on Yoga and talking about how the posture- the classic form, the basic shape, the basic "how-to" of the pose can be a scaffolding upon which the whole task of teaching yoga rests. I used the analogy of a tree and how the posture can be like the trunk and the main branches and out of that grows these other branches and flowers and fruit like safety cues, modifications, refinements, energetic actions, heart themes and so forth.  We went deep into the basics of the postures throughout the weekend which was really fun and educational. And I have really revamped and refined my own ideas about how to train teachers now that the order of the day is not "training Anusara yoga teachers".

I will carry so many wonderful things from that training system over into my future curriculum but honestly, my ideas have changed radically in the last 6 months since I resigned. I am in a very creative process and I am very excited about it. More on the details of all of that soon- my time to write this morning is a bit limited to draw out some of the things I am contemplating right now, but the thing I am clear on is that I am not just teaching Anusara with a different name or without its name. I am, in fact,  in a very real evolution and integration process of bringing my various trainings together in a unique approach.

And the cool thing about that is that Darren is in that process and Noah is too and so the three of us are also working together on how to take our individual observations/experience and combine them into our joint offerings.  Like I said, its a highly creative time.

Another cool thing that we worked with a lot in this training was the Myers-Briggs type analysis. Cari, one of the trainees has expensive training in this area and she administered the test to us and scored it for us and gave us a presentation on our various types. We were then able to talk about how that relates to our studentship and to our practice style and our teaching styles and preferences. It is such an interesting discussion because when its all laid out on paper, it is really easy to see that we are not all the same. And that while humans may have a universality of experience and at a very deep level share a Oneness, at the level of personality and how we experience the world and assign meaning to our lives, we are not the same at all.

I got a lot of food for thought personally from the test as it was timely for me in my own self-inquiry.  I am thinking a lot these days about who I am- not who I can be, how I can adapt as needed, how I can shift when necessary, etc. but the honest-to-God truth of who I am and how, if the reins were free, I might run. Weirdly, its not easy work. So this was a nice doorway into some of that personal work for me. More  on that later.

Also, I got a lot out of The Myers Briggs test  from a teacher training perspective because as I am moving away from teaching a system or a method of yoga and into a process of helping people learn a variety of doorways into the postures, the practices and the principles of yoga, I am increasingly interested in what it means to have a personal relationship with traditional teachings. And if, at the level of personality, we are very different, then that means that people are going to be in relationship to the yoga, to community, to learning in widely different ways. There is a dynamic tension in yoga where we- in our individuality- are always part of the equation and yet we are taking that individuality and funneling it into certain forms that are more constant and unchanging.

It hit me as we were exploring the forms of asana outlined in Light on Yoga that really, that is the conversation of yoga. (Or at least one of the ways to see the conversation. Or at least one of the conversations. And yes, it is my type to see all these different possibilities of how something could be approached. Also my type is to see the step-by-step progression toward goals. Hello, progressive sequencing girl! Anyway. ) As we looked at the postures and gave the basic "how-to" of the posture, the students kept saying, "but I can't do that" or "but my students can't do that" or "but look at his arms" etc. And it dawned on me that on one level what we are actually doing in yoga in a very real way is figuring  out how to bridge the gap between us and the posture or us and the teaching. Like here is this picture of an Indian man defining a near-impossible form and here is each one of us with our unique set of circumstances trying to do the pose. And since the pose is hard and our capacities differ as do our motives, abilities, knowledge, and arm length, etc. yoga classes/methods/systems etc have sprung up trying to helps us bridge the gap between ourselves and an externally defined form. And the gap is full of modifications, energetic actions, props, alternative postures, heated rooms, no heated rooms, various sequences, breath techniques, bandhas and so forth.

It sounds really obvious but sometimes it is really making the obvious obvious that teaching is all about. So it gets back to that tree I described where we are looking at asanas - or philosophically we are looking at lofty teachings, etc- and then we are looking at ourselves and the stark reality that is us at any moment, physically, emotionally, intellectually, etc. And we have to navigate the disparity and find our way. Yoga, seen like this is both subjective and objective and the conversation between the two realities is pretty darn rich. I am interested in that terrain and in that discussion and I am interested in a yoga that trains us all to live in the domain of creative tension between subject and object.

As I see it, some yoga fights exist because one side is arguing for the subjective experience of "its my personal yoga" and the other side is testifying "the form leads the way and there is  the yoga itself" and really I think its both. If we didn't have an aim to shoot for called "the pose" how would be even know where to begin? However, if all we had was "the pose" then we are shoving ourselves into forms thinking the form itself has some mystical answer or power. To me, its both. I have to aim toward the pose even if I can't achieve the form because its in the aiming that I am making my modifications, refinements, and check myself against something other than me.

And so in some way, as a teacher, part of what I am doing is helping people navigate that terrain- here is the objective lesson, here is your subjective lesson, how will you be you in that process of learning? And depending on type some students and some teachers  will gravitate toward one end of that spectrum between objective and subjective. And none of that is a problem at all. More on this as time goes on- this is my new thing so expect to hear a lot about it!

Anyway, this month was really significant for me because I finished part 3 of two different trainings (one in Athens, GA and one here in TX) that began as Anusara Immersions and became Shravana School of Yoga programs before the teacher training component began. It has been such a meaningful and rewarding process too take these two groups through the teacher training and to bring them to completion both in the same month.  Oh, and shameless plug for my birthday celebration--

If you live in Austin, join me at Wanderlust Live on Monday May 7th from 6-7:45 for a birthday practice with yours truly. Come, practice, make a donation and eat some cake. Please help me spread the word- I don't want to play alone.


Dan said...

Nice post! Systems are so helpful—but to be most helpful, systems need to have built in mechanisms for change and growth. And to do this they need to allow for deviation, because without deviation, there can’t be change and without change, there is no life. I’m interested in learning “good”yoga—and at the moment that some system says, “yes, that’s good yoga, but it has no place in this system,” the system is hurting itself. On the other hand it’s the willingness to say “that is less good yoga” that creates the boundaries that are necessary to sustain the system. An attitude of endless and open expansiveness combined with a willingness to be critically discerning keeps systems growing. Hard work.

And, I would think, the same with the poses. They aren’t static and eternal. They are a valuable inheritance, yes, but if there is life in them then they change too. Which means that the subjective/objective tension you talk about is deeply complex. My intuition tells me that the forms undergo creative change as practitioners enter into true relationship with them. Asana shapes us and we return the favor. A dance towards light.

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christina Sell said...

yep, I agree.