Yoga School – Day 4

A quick recap of Day Three, since it was a good day with the exception of feeling like arse thanks to a nasty headcold.   We started off the morning with A, who took us through a quick 60 minute warm up and then we worked on balance postures.  The most interesting take-away for me was the realization that balance is not in the standing leg, but the flying leg.  Engage the muscles in the flying leg and the balance will surface.  A also gave some great advice with cueing: pick your top 3 for each pose and stick with those.  It will help prevent over-cueing.

A also talked at length about Frog (Mandukasana).  Because it’s a really intense hip and pelvis opener, it can bring up a lot of emotions.  Accoring to A, the pelvis is where people store their emotions about sex and feeling of sexual safety.  Deep openers like Frog can bring these emotions to the surface.  When students begin to fidget in the pose, it’s generally because they are reacting to emotions the are surfacing.  Cue students to breath with whatever comes up.  Can handle it with breath.  If they’re not ready, it’s ok.  Take Child’s Pose.

This was really interesting as I haven’t yet, in my own practice, hit a pose that has evoked serious emotion.  The most intense emotion I felt ever in my practice was joy and gratitude towards my body for getting me into and through a challenging pose.  Does this lack of experience and ability to empathize make me a less effective teacher?

This must be a big fear for me since it came up again today, in Day 4.

Day 4 started out with JB and a pretty intense/long meditation.  I really connected to JB when she said “love yourself enough to be silent.”  Being silent/quiet and meditating is a way to honor your body, mind and spirit with peace.  I also learned from JB that “om” is traditionally spelled “aum”.  The “a” symbolizing all that it finite, “u” symbolizing all that is infinite, and “m” symbolizing all that is matter.  When we “om/aum” we connect with all that is finite, infinite and matter.  I liked the sound of this:  it’s spiritual, but without the attached dogmatic belief system.  It’s about connection with the people and world and space around you.

We also learned that when we roll to the right side into fetal position before taking the final seated pose, it’s because the right side of the body contains the fiery, masculine energy, while the left side contains the water-based feminine emergy.  By rolling to the right, the energy flows through the body and cools the more firey side.  This closes the practice on a more peaceful note.  Anatomically, it’s also because the heart and stomach are on the left and you don’t want to compress them.

I loved JB.  Really connected with her spirit.  Her meditation was awesome and the aums after had me nearly in tears.  It was such a beautiful moment: the sound was like a choir, hitting all the right notes, creating a resonance that reached deep in the soul.  I also appreciated JB’s directness, encouraging all of us to take out a personal policy once we start teaching.  It’s not often that you get someone who is willing to talk about the nitty-gritty details of teaching.  Usually it’s all about the spiritual journey, and while that’s important, there are other, more earthly details that needs to be taken care of.

The quote of the day from JB is “Be a strong student.  If you’re a strong student, you can’t help but be a good teacher.  If you’re not a strong student, you have no business teaching.”

To teach you have to walk the walk.  Meditate. Practice.  Study. Be aware.  Be present. Empathize and be compassionate about the things you are asking people to do in your class.  I think JB might be the first person I feel I could ask my question about spirituality and yoga.  As a non-believer, how I can be a good teacher and provide a compassionate and loving space for people who seek a connection to a more spiritual level?  I am struggling with this and am unsure how I could adequately provide for this need.

The afternoon was with J, from the first weekend.  Loved having her back, too.  We broke into two groups and taught the latest sequence: 2 sun As, 2 sun Bs, twisting crescent lunge, side-angle, extended side-angle, bind, and twisting chair. Exhausted by the end of it but learned some great cues and techniques from my fellow trainees.

J also talked a lot about meditation.  I didn’t implement it like I wanted to after the first weekend.  Really feeling like I need to.  I feel better about myself when I take the time.  It’s hard to ask for it though — time for myself.  So many people place demands on my time and I want to make them happy.  And yet I don’t have anything to give unless I can eek out the time I need in my day.  But with a full-time job, yoga school on the weekends, a serious relationship to tend to, roommates, friends, practicing yoga/working out, and the daily tasks related with life, there’s not much time left in my day.  I’m not sure how I can squeeze anymore in, but I really want to.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  And I better find a way, else I’m going to be one nasty, cranky person who won’t be of use to anyone let alone myself.

Weekend 2 was definitely a weekend of solidification.  My teaching was stronger, my practice felt stronger and my resolve to become a yoga student and teacher is stronger.  Now the work really begins.


8 responses to “Yoga School – Day 4

  1. I think you can definitely be an effective teacher while being a nonbeliever. For me, and for a lot of people I’m sure, yoga has nothing to do with spirituality and everything to do with bodily well being. That semester that I took yoga, it helped with my stress levels, my posture was better, my flexibility was improving, and it was a wonderfully relaxing part of my day. I think you’ll be able to create a space where believers and nonbelievers alike can practice comfortably. After all, when the group is meditating, who knows who’s really meditating and who’s trying to figure out what to make for dinner? 😉

    • Thank you for the encouragement. I think I need to approach this more like a librarian. I may not know everything about the history of life insurance, or the tea trade with China, but I can guide people to the right sources of information or other experts. After all, connecting people with what they need is still my #1 job 🙂

  2. As an ex-Catholic-turned-agnostic+dashes-of-other, I find that I am more happy and in tune with my mind, soul, and the earth now than I ever had been under the previous umbrella. Not saying that everyone should chuck their religion (whatever works, works), but you don’t need religion to be spiritual. Like Allison put it (very well), you can’t control what people are meditating on (or putting on their shopping lists). All you can do is focus on what makes YOU connected and relaxed and, in turn, that will convey and put your students at the level of ease that they need and want. You’ll be fine! Just breathe and allow yourself permission to be great.

    “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” – Deepak Chopra

  3. Thanks for sharing your teacher training experience. I remember the most interesting (and sometimes heated) discussions surrounding spirituality (or lack of) in my own class!

    Also, I really agree with the being a strong student is one of the key ingredients to being a good teacher. And using your librarian’s inquisitiveness is going to be a great asset. We never stop learning!

  4. Jettie, I wish you lived close enough so that I could hug you! That Chopra quote is perfect. I just re-read his “Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” and discovered a whole new level of understanding.

  5. Jen, thank you for your comment! What kind of discussions surfaced in your teacher training? (Where did you get your cert?)

  6. I got my cert at Davenport School of Yoga (in Iowa.)

    We read Light on Yoga and for those of us non-believers it was difficult to get past the first paragraph in which Mr. Iyengar writes that yoga is “the true union of our will with the will of God.” Some of us discussed how we might substitute another word, like universe, and be much more comfortable with the text.

  7. Ah yes. We had a similar discussion yesterday. How spirituality is so personal and private, that when reading spiritual texts, you have to learn to separate the message from the delivery. I’m still struggling with how to do that.

    How was the Davenport school? Did you like your program?

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