Well, it's been a great week this week and I am so thrilled to be looking at another weekend at home before I head out to Tucson for the first week of a new cycle of Teacher Training. I am also really excited to be offering some classes locally this weekend. On Sunday from 1-4 you can find me at Breath and Body Yoga with a Teacher's Session on "Themes, Metaphors and Teachable Moments" which I am looking forward to. Last I heard we had 6 or 7 more slots open for that so if you want to come, contact Desirae at Breath and Body Yoga.
It's funny because I have written about the pros and cons of themes a lot since I resigned my license to teach Anusara Yoga and I think people really take me the wrong way when I say I do not think they are essential. I have people writing me and talking to me telling me things like "I know that you don't think they are important but....." All I have been saying is that I think "theme" is just not the same as "inspiring spiritual connection to the work in front of you". When I say I could care less about whether a class has a theme or not what I mean is that I do not think a one-or-two-feeling-based-words-linked-to-a -key action-loosely-tied-to-the-"Grand Purposes of Yoga"-and-woven-throughout-an -entire-90-minute- class is the only way to bring inspiration to the class, to deliver a potent teaching or to give meaning to the work at hand. I think it is one way that sometimes works. I think there are other ways to bring inspiration into the class and so as I have considered these various ways, I am reluctant to keep calling all of that "themes". For sure, I am happy to teach The Art of Themes but for me I see themes as just one tool in the tool box.
Like I said, there are many other ways to deepen the implicit connection between asana and the Teachings because asana is simply embodied philosophy- one doesn't need to add a lot to a class or to embellish in some fancy way, they simply need to draw out the implicit relationship that already exists in the postures. And the word "theme" has become so overused it has even become a verb. "(She did such a good job theming" or "I need to work on my theming.") So to be clear- Christina Sell still believes in delivering a spiritually potent and inspiring message when she teaches. She just does not believe that has to be reduced down to a feeling word, tied to a key action and peppered ongoingly throughout a class.
And before I close out this little afternoon rant of mine, I have to add one more thing-- I believe in delivering that kind of message because that is what I am actually interested in when I am not teaching. I do not care about "themes" as something that belongs only to the realm of teaching yoga. I do not care about them separate from what my own passion in life is-- which is to look for the Teaching everywhere, to find the Guru in each situation and to mine my life experiences for clues about how to more profoundly participate in the Mystery that lives in the Heart of Reality itself. See, the thing is that I am into that, teaching yoga or not. It is not like I put on a pair of high-priced yoga clothes and suddenly start looking for deeper meaning and ways to communicate my insight to others. No, I put on my high-priced yoga clothes, step in front a room and do my best to articulate my ongoing inquiry and insight with the high hope that my process might be educational, inspirational, meaningful or even entertaining for someone else walking the Path. I am into it. Try to get me to stop. Put me in a cold straight asana class and I will see the metaphors. Place me on a mountaintop and I will tell you how it relates to my life. After a difficult conversation, I can tell you how it was a perfect chance to practice my principles. See, its not some separate thing.
To me part of being inspiring as a teacher rests on the assumption that we are in a conscious process of engaging the teachings in an inspiring and authentic manner. If that is happening, well, the rest is a skill set of tools, techniques and so on. Tools, techniques and all that can be learned but it will all seem flat, empty and forced if the actual internal process isn't going on.
And, people are inspiring for different reasons- some people inspire me with their intellect, others with their physical prowess, some with their artistic mastery, others with their compassion and understanding, others with their articulation skills and so on. Being "inspiring" as a teacher has more avenues of expression that being able to "weave a theme" in my opinion.
Having said all that, I do have some good tricks of the trade for creating themes, presenting them and weaving them into classes. I also have some good exercises I like to share about how to make use of the already potent power of the postures and to capitalize on the poses themselves as sources of inspirational commentary. So that's all on the agenda for Sunday.
After a short break I am going to head down to Bfree for my foray into the Wide Wonderful World of Vinyasa to be the guest teacher for their Level 3 Vinyasa class. I always play my "guest teacher card" and lobby to do it group practice style AND for 120 minutes instead of 90. Shelby always indulges me and so we have a sweaty, fun, and delightful time on those evenings. I always say I am not really a vinyasa teacher but I have this alter ego who loves to teach vinyasa occasionally. She gets to come out and play on these Sunday night practices which is so much fun for me. I love having the opportunity to lead that class. I am really looking forward to it.
Well, more could be said, but that is about it for now.