This morning I took a tech session taught by a guest teacher on the topic of “Yoga for a Healthy Back”. As I’m “getting older” (which is ridiculous for me to even contemplate, but it’s true – over the past year I’ve noticed my body begin to change, to age), I’ve realized I need to take more care with how I sit, lift, and sleep – my back just isn’t as understanding and forgiving as it once was. So I thought this tech session would be a helpful one, and it absolutely was – in more ways than I would have guessed.
In fact, this session was very reminiscent in tenor and spirit to the anatomy session I had last week. Today’s teacher encouraged us to put our pens and paper away, and instead to focus on physically experiencing the class – allowing the information to integrate into our minds via our whole bodies, not just our hand and our eyes.
Today’s teacher also stressed the free, “light” quality a yoga practice should have. We shouldn’t push, strain, or cajole our bodies (or minds) into more than they can handle, more than they are ready for. Instead, we would do well to practice restraint and acceptance, and find the joy in yoga (and in life). The teacher instructed, “If you’re not enjoying the posture, it’s not yoga.”
Hmm… two classes back-to-back with dominant themes of asking versus demanding, experiencing fully instead of relying only on thinking – basically, trusting life to work instead of doing all we can to “help ensure” that it does.
[Interestingly, this week I read a magazine article that talked precisely about this theme as well; and for those of you who know me and my “Rule of 3”; well, I got it. I’m listening…]
But back to the class. Basically, this teacher impressed the heck out of me. While she looked like an “average” person (kind of short, a little plump), physically she was able to do impressive stuff with her body. The class content was a combination of physical poses (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation items (mudras) all focused on cultivating awareness and strength of our back. Personality-wise, the teacher wasn’t “flighty” or “airy-fairy” like some yoga people can be; she was precise, knowledgeable, and confident – yet still kind. She seems to have the good sense of a strong business woman, yet the spiritual lens of a strong yogi. And, an extra delighter for me: she gave us detailed handouts for the class session as a reference for our later use. Thank you!
While I didn’t fully groove on all of the content this teacher taught (I’m still not a big fan of deities and of chanting – though I *am* working really hard to try and remain open and teachable), I do fully respect and appreciate her effort, knowledge, wisdom, and care. I’m grateful that I got to have today’s experience; my learnings today extend well beyond my back.