Today’s teacher training was a 4-hour core class session, segmented into three distinct chunks: poses, yama, and Ayurveda.
We studied two very-closely-related poses: standing forward fold (Uttanasana), and seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana). [I told you they were very closely related…*smile*] The primary focus of these two poses was on keeping the back straight. In these poses (and in much of yoga in general), many people just want to go as deep or as far as possible, and will do whatever it takes to go deeper, deeper, farther, farther – often at the expense of good form, and sometimes even at the expense of their real physical limitations and safety. Today, our teacher challenged us to pay honest attention to our bodies, and to stop bending forward when we could no longer keep our back straight. (And to help us remain honest, we each had a partner who watched us bend/fold forward – and this person verbally told us when they saw our back changing from straight to curved.) I was able to go quite far, actually – largely because my old teacher stressed proper form above all else in her classes, and strongly encouraged us to bend and fold with straight backs. As I was moving in class today, once again I felt a lot of gratitude for my old teacher; at the time I was taking her classes, I didn’t fully realize just how amazing she really, truly is. I knew she was very good; and I knew she was not only physically strong in asana practice, but also very attuned to the mental/emotional/spiritual aspects of a full yogic life; but I didn’t realize exactly just how precisely she was modeling amazing, positive, “correct” behaviors – in her actions, and her speech, and her emotions, and her perspective. I am so appreciative that my life was led to intersect with hers; and I hope that I am able to positively influence others as homage to her.
After an hour of pose observation and practice, the class spent the next hour discussing the yama of ahimsa, which is non-violence, non-injury, “doing no harm” in thoughts, words, and actions. Honestly, I didn’t get much out of this portion of class today. And this isn’t because the content is unimportant, or because the presenters were poor, or because the topic is “un-interesting” to me; I think it’s because I’ve already had really rich discussions about this topic in a spiritually-focused setting with deeply-committed and very knowledgeable Buddhist practitioners. I’ve pushed the limits of this concept with others who are able to respectfully push back to me; I’ve worked and stretched and kneaded this topic and pushed my understanding/application/”acceptance” of it to a deeper level; so I found a lot of the “introductory” tenor of today’s class discussion – Provisional? Tentative? Uneventful? I’m not fully certain… but I do know that today’s discussion was “fine”, but nothing outstanding for me personally.
And the same can be said for the final two hours of class today, focused on Ayurveda. Three years ago I attended a three-session class series about Ayurveda, and at the time I found the content kind of interesting, but not personally “meaningful”. (It just didn’t really resonate with me.) Okay, fine, whatever… So I was interested in today’s class, to see if: 1) my perspective might have changed between 2007 and now; 2) if learning the content in a new context might provide me different insights; and 3) if hearing the information from a different teacher might influence my understanding or appreciation of Ayurveda. When the session teacher arrived to class, I chuckled to myself: In walked the exact same woman who taught the Ayurveda series from three years ago. And, she used the exact same handouts today as she used three years ago. And, she told the exact same stories, and conveyed almost the exact same information as she shared three years ago. So, um, yeah… I maintain the same perspective on Ayurveda as I held before the class session. Now, I *will* say that today the teacher did talk briefly (i.e., for 10 minutes) about a few yoga adjustments that can be offered in a class setting to help balance doshas that may be out of whack; so I was more engaged during that part of class, and did find that information interesting and potentially helpful – I just wish more of that type of instruction was offered during today’s session. But, alas, it is what it is; and while I didn’t get a ton out of today’s class, perhaps someone else really did; so perhaps today’s class was designed more for them than for me. *Shrug* Oh well; it’s all good, baby.