Illness, Irritation, Illumination – oh, and Iyengar

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t feeling very good for much of the day today (tired, headache, feverish), and one of the last things I wanted to do tonight was go to a yoga tech session. I was concerned that I might actually pass out or throw up during the class… But, I had pre-registered for the tech (as our program coordinators want us to do), and the studio cancellation policy is such that if less than 24 hours notice is given, credit for the session will not be refunded. So basically, if I didn’t show up, I would be short one tech session (which is required for my certification), and I would have to pay out-of-pocket to make up the class. I’m trying to be very respectful of the studio, and pre-register for all of my sessions at least a week (if not a few weeks) in advance; but part of me wonders if I should do them this courtesy if they are unwilling to let me cancel if I’m ill. Perhaps I might begin to do less “registering”, and more “drop ins”. [Okay, we all know I won’t do that, because I’m a play-by-the-rules kind of gal; but still, it frustrates me…]

Anyway – all of this is a long way of saying that I was feeling sick, but I didn’t feel like I had the option of not going to class. So I went.

When I arrived, I learned that the teacher on the schedule was ill herself, so we had a sub. Again, I’ll be honest: This irked me. I’m sick, but I’m here; if a teacher can cancel without advance notice, why can’t I? I registered for tonight’s tech session specifically so I could learn the content from this (scheduled) teacher. When I found out who the sub was, I grew even *more* irritated. I have had classes with the sub a few different times before; and I have consistently left her sessions feeling displeased and annoyed. Her teaching style just isn’t for me. And that’s okay; I’m certainly not for everyone, nor is everyone for me. That’s the beautiful thing about diversity: I get to align myself with people who resonate with me, and whom I won’t annoy too much, either. So, when I have a choice in what class to take, I choose to not take a class that this particular instructor is teaching. Had I known she would be teaching tonight’s content, I would have not registered for the session at all.


But. The situation is what it is. I’m here. She’s here. The session is starting in literally four minutes. Stef, get on your mat, and get ready for class.

Okay, fine. I will. I did.

And then, the teacher opened up the class by stating, “Hi, I’m subbing tonight, and I can share some information about tonight’s topic [the Iyengar style of yoga], but I am not an Iyengar teacher.” And she then spent about 30 seconds describing why she is not qualified to teach tonight’s session – and stressed multiple times that she is just a sub.

Oh, for cryin’ out loud. What the — ? Seriously? Seriously?! One of my personal pet peeves is when people are self-deprecating; especially people who are in authority/leadership/teaching roles. A teacher chooses to open a class like THAT? Cripes, she might as well have just said, “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” Talk about eroding her credibility with me even further… (!)

So now I’m tired, nauseous, in pain, and pissed. Sweet lord, not a good combination at all…

And then, I caught myself. I realized I was adding unnecessary suffering to tonight’s situation. And in that moment of recognition, many different teachings came to my mind, each in rapid succession. One sentiment was about tapas (i.e., persevering through stuff we don’t want/don’t “like”); one sentiment was about the nature of reality (i.e., the concept that all situations are actually neutral, but that our minds color each one as pleasant or unpleasant – so we create our own misery); and one sentiment was about being teachable (i.e., why come to a class if you aren’t willing to listen to what the teacher has to say?). And in that space of 2-3 seconds, my soul “clicked on”, and I was able to see past the thinking mind, and into the experiential human construct that is “me”. [It’s all difficult to explain in words; I’m trying the best I can.]

I guess the important point is that once those 2-3 seconds elapsed, and I had that brief-but-clear moment of insight, I dropped the judgment and the crabbiness as best I could (I wasn’t perfect, but I was better), and did my very best to assume an attitude of “beginner’s mind” as fully as possible.

From there, I had a decent experience tonight.

I did learn quite a bit about the Iyengar style of yoga. I certainly acquired new, relevant, and interesting pieces of information; and I got to try some different yoga methods I hadn’t ever experienced before. While tonight’s teacher wasn’t the one I planned on having, perhaps she was the one I was *supposed* to have. The originally scheduled teacher can be quite intense; perhaps HP knew I needed a gentler approach this evening, given how I was feeling physically? Perhaps I also needed a lesson/reminder about acceptance, and patience, and compassion, and humility? Yeah, I probably needed a double-serving of some humility.

By the end of class, I still wasn’t feeling physically great (though I didn’t throw up, nor did I pass out – two very good things), but I was doing better emotionally. And while I think I might have liked to have received the content from the originally scheduled teacher, I think I probably learned even better lessons from tonight’s instructor. So thank you.



About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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