Today was Core Session #2; and unlike last week’s introductory class, today’s session was a lot less talk, and a lot more action. Indeed, the teacher told us at the onset that he’s not a fan of lecture in a yoga school; that he wants us to *do* what we are supposed to be learning, so that our bodies develop muscle memory, not “mind” memory. I whole-heartedly agree: in my opinion, yoga is something to be applied, not discussed; to be experienced, not observed. I’m grateful that today’s session was “hand’s on”; I learn yoga much better that way!
The topic of today’s session was “Alignment Standing Poses 1”; which basically means that we learned the proper body positioning for the primary “hips-forward” poses, including Warrior 1, Pyramid, and Mountain. I got a LOT out of the detailed step-by-step (body part-by-body part) break down and construction of each pose; but perhaps even more importantly, I got a lot out of observing this teacher in action. He was incredibly descriptive in his language (which is so helpful for me to experience as a student-teacher [or teacher student?]; verbal cues comprise a large part of yoga instruction); he absolutely knew what he was doing (again, very helpful), and he honestly, sincerely was having a heckuva good time leading us through the class. As a yoga teacher, I want to help people learn, and learn “right”, and learn well, and learn safely; but even more than all of that, I want to help people learn how to have fun, how to let go, how to not be so serious, and how to enjoy yoga – so that if they learn how to enjoy their yoga, maybe they will also begin to learn how to enjoy their lives. The teacher today was an excellent model for all of that. It’s a tall order, to be certain, but today’s instructor more than fulfilled it.
In addition to learning the “official” content of today’s session, I had a moment of increased personal awareness in this afternoon’s class. We all began the session with a few minutes of getting grounded (laying on our backs with our eyes closed, bringing our minds and our breath to the space where our bodies were, etc.). The teacher then began verbally instructing us through warm-up poses; but he never said “open your eyes”, so I didn’t – I just started doing the poses with my eyes still closed. And I was listening, and moving, and it was very calm, and peaceful, and centering, and empowering, and cool. About 10 minutes into the class, the teacher guided us into a semi-tricky pose (requiring some good balance), so I opened my eyes to aid with the balance aspect of the pose – and I noticed the woman next to me. And immediately, I started comparing myself to her. (“Am I as flexible as she is?” “Am I going as deep as she is?” “Do I look as graceful as she does?” Etc.) And bam, peace o’ mind started to diminish rapidly – along with fun, and enjoyment, and overall joy. And this made me sad for a moment; but then, the awareness: Hey, you know what? I actually *don’t* have to compare myself to her, or to the person behind me, or to the teacher, or to anyone! I’m doing all of this purely for my own education, my own fulfillment, my own enjoyment. My body is unique, special, wonderful, amazing, and beautiful all in its own right – and so is everyone else’s body here. So you know what? We can all do this, and we can all do it in the way that our individual bodies want to do it today, and we can all be amazing and special and beautiful! There is enough wonder, and delight, and energy, and beauty for ALL of us! These are not finite commodities; indeed, they actually compound and increase as more people use them. So sweetie, let’s let go of the comparisons, and instead try to build up the positive qualities that can grow, flourish, and thrive, eh?
Now, I’d like to report that presto, comparisons were done for the day, and I existed in perfect peaceful bliss for the remaining class session. Well folks, it’s not true. But. I did get more moments of mental clarity and true delight than I’m accustomed to, and I now have increased awareness (and therefore increased sensitivity) into both where my mind habitually goes, and a better direction where I can work to re-train my mind to go.
So all in all, this was one ridiculously successful class. I have a LOT to learn before I’m even close to ready to teach yoga, but I know I can learn it – and when I do, I will be an amazing instructor.