Tuesday, October 4, 2016

On being real

A friend is at home, recovering from knee surgery. The culprit--competitive yoga, I needed to do the full expression of the pose, he said.  And I said--if it caused you pain, then you weren't doing yoga. He is now persuading me, in my pursuit of a studio to study at, be careful!

Careful I was, last night at a studio on my list of places to take my teacher training. Because I was there, not just to practice, but to check them out, I was competitive in a completely different way. It began with the teacher not asking if anyone had injuries. I could have tried to get her attention and mentioned my right shoulder cuff issue, which eliminates "the full expression" of numerous poses. Instead, I noted her lapse on my imaginary list of "how I would teach differently." 

It's not a bad idea to note what is missing from my particular brand of a good class; my English teacher-self was formed by doing the opposite of my grad school teachers. Two, in particular, spent half of each class talking about themselves and their books. That set me up to almost never say anything personal, including my own writing. A student once told me "You have no ego," and that was my greatest teacher compliment. Slowly, I loosened the reins; at my community college classes, it's to my students' benefit to know I was a community college grad. Ditto on being the daughter of immigrants--so many of them are first generation. We have much in common, likely why I am a different teacher there than at my other schools where I'm more buttoned up and formal.

But I digress. As class went on, I began to crave the teacher's attention when my lower back issues (let's call them being-a-yogi-of-a-certain age) made any sort of expression a bad idea. I heeded the call of the present moment and got her attention, pointed at my back. She nodded, continued with her script (did I mention she is also a yogi-of-a-certain age?) My yoga-teacher-self crystallized as I pictured myself walking over to a yogi in need with props, suggestions, kindness, as most teachers do. The point isn't to cuddle, but to make a practice accessible to everyone. The alternative, sitting it out, shouldn't be the only solution.

It's good for me to remember that, when I'm in English teacher mode. Students who leave the textbook home, the assignment in the wrong notebook, a writing implement in the other backpack, and on and on, may be conveying something other than disinterest. How good am I at accommodating them? Two weeks ago when one-third of a class was unprepared, I told them the view from where I sat was dismal. I was relieved when at the next class, the view improved.  

Unlike many of my students, I have the luxury of crossing that studio-school off my list.  (Photo: view from the studio I won't be seeing) There are tons of others that I can choose from. And then there's the ultimate question I must get very honest about: am I up to the physical demands of this discipline? Did someone once say I had no ego? Not so. I understand why my friend (70+) pushed himself to the point of needing knee surgery. I hope I heed his message to be careful, and my own, to go forward--in yoga-speak, mindfully.    

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