Lately, I’ve been in a yoga funk.
The sessions I’m attending for the yoga teacher certification are starting to feel more like obligations and “work” than like enjoyable extra-curricular activities. I’m not getting to physically move in most of these classes very much, and because I’m spending so much time in class I’m also not able to go to ‘outside’ yoga sessions where I could get in some happy flowing asana time.
I’m also starting to feel slightly overwhelmed by the program in its totality. I still have many, many more tasks to do (i.e., read two-and-a-half more books, write three more reports, go to two month’s worth of tech sessions, do a month-long personal practice series, work with a mentor, complete multiple class observations, pull together a significant karma yoga project with my peers…) – and I’m starting to ask the question, “Gosh, is all of this worth it?”
The answer is yes; I know when I’m all finished, I will be very pleased with myself. And I know that the feelings I am having right now are temporary; that eventually (and probably sooner rather than later) they will be replaced by other feelings (which will be equally fleeting…). But right now, this journey just doesn’t feel very fun anymore…
This is how I walked into tonight’s tech session.
The official topic of this evening’s class was how to adjust standing poses; but the primary theme I heard throughout the class was one of accepting life as it is, and accepting ourselves as we are. Some examples:
1) The teacher began by discussing Warrior 1 – a pretty common yoga pose. She explained that the expression of this one pose can look pretty darn different from one yoga tradition to another; that the style of yoga a person does informs how they will physically embody a pose. So while many people may want to think that there is one “right” way to do Warrior 1, that simply isn’t true. There is no “absolute” in yoga – there are always slight variations in every pose. I then applied the broader meaning of this message to my own life (as I believe this is one of the many ‘purposes’ of yoga – to help us understand and appreciate not only our physical bodies, but our whole, holistic lives), and ‘heard’ the message that there is no single right way to be in life; that what we are in the midst of (or have come from, or are headed towards) will inform how we embody our life at that given moment.
As I wrapped up this thought in my own mind, the teacher then literally said aloud, “So, it’s all good.” Exactly. Every emotion, experience, struggle – it’s all good.
2) If a yoga teacher puts his/her hands on a student and physically adjusts them, an exchange takes place. The teacher gives energy to the student, and the student gives energy to the teacher. (This isn’t some crazy “airy-fairy” yoga woo-hoo talk here; this is a basic principle of physics.) Tonight’s instructor talked about the importance of us, as teachers, recognizing what we feel – so that we are aware of what we are ‘giving’ to our students, and equally importantly so that we understand what our students are ‘giving’ back to us. We may not always be super-positive when we teach, and our students may not always be super-happy in our classes; and this evening’s teacher stressed the importance of all of us being honest with where we are in any given moment, and respecting it. (Now, this is *not* an excuse for poor behavior. Rather, this is an honest recognition of what is going on with us, so that we can respond to our situation appropriately [instead of reacting to it unconsciously and perhaps inappropriately].)
At this moment in the class, I felt a physical sense of relief; I felt a slight lifting in my chest, and a slight relaxation of my core. It’s okay to be in a funk, it’s okay to feel a little dispirited – I can accept all of this for what it is, and protect myself and others appropriately. And then carry on.
During the last section of the class, the teacher asked us to consider our own points-of-view regarding adjustments. If/when we teach a class, how will/do we choose who to physically adjust and who to just verbally correct? Are we even going to put our hands on anyone at all? If we do choose to physically adjust a student, are we going to do so with just two fingers and a light touch, or with our whole hands and a firm touch, or with our whole bodies and a “Let’s get in there and get ‘em!” kind of zeal?
I don’t know my personal responses to these questions yet. I’m a pretty introverted and non-touch kind of person, so in my every day life I don’t feel comfortable entering other people’s personal space and physically touching them (apart from a handshake). But in the yoga studio it’s different. In that space, I personally value when a teacher adjusts me; I get a much better understanding of how I should be doing a pose when a teacher physically moves my body into the ‘correct’ position. I also feel more comfortable when a teacher uses firm pressure in their touch versus a faint tapping; to me, the firm pressure shows me the teacher has confidence in what they are doing, so I trust them more. (This could be a mistake, I know; but it’s just how I feel, “right” or “wrong”.) So while I may never be a gregarious hugger in my every day life, if/when I stand in front of a room of yoga students, I might embrace a more hands-on persona.
Then again, maybe not. I likely won’t know the real answers to these questions until I’m in a real situation. So, probably the most honest answer is, “Well, let’s wait and see…”
So, let’s wait and see.