Friday, October 1, 2010

Just rambling

I got sick at class today. Boo.

I am starting all over, from scratch--again!--with standing bow. I love love this posture, but I have been on a mission to systematically remove my quirky alignment issues, one by one. Found a big one today, and correcting it means relearning the balance for the posture, distributing my weight differently. Exciting to see clearly what needs work and how to go about changing it, working on it. It's a mini-bummer to see that I've not been doing the posture as well as I'd like, but it sure is nice to know how to improve.

I'm not quite sure about my future in the advanced class (a continuing issue I might write more about in the future). Yesterday, after the last class, I was alone at the studio to do the cleaning and did some simple asana that are not part of beginning series. In my non-Bikram teacher training, I learned a lot of the postures that are part of advanced series. I'm slightly foggy on the sequences in AS, and I would not want to try to do any of it on my own anyway. But I did a few of the postures that I felt I knew well, and it felt good.

One of my dearest yoga buddies (another student who wants to do competition but was not welcome at advanced) and I were chatting recently, and we've decided to work together on some things. A kind teacher has offered to meet with us a couple of times to not only give us some individualized instruction, but to also take some pictures of us in various postures. It's so sweet.

I am feeling a little better and maybe a little bitter about the not very encouraging teacher.

But I am so so grateful for the community and the goodness amongst yogis. I really love the studio owners, and some of the teachers are just downright incredible human beings, so helpful, so caring. I'm so glad to practice yoga with so many good folks, so many cool people who take classes at our studios. I feel close to a bunch of you yoga bloggers and blog readers too now. In a way, we're all doing yoga together. It's pretty freaking lovely, really.

You Might Not See It...

There are so many ways to teach Bikram's Beginning Series! It's pretty mind-boggling, considering that Bikram yoga classes are all taught from the same dialogue, how individual teachers bring their own energy, mood, perspective, wisdom, experience, etc, combine it with Bikram's instructions, and create their own unique classes.

Since I want to teach Bikram's Beginning Series someday, I'm paying more attention to how teachers teach. Tonight, after a really lovely class taught by a very gentle, upbeat, and kind-hearted teacher, I was a little surprised by what he had to say about why he taught the way he did.

A few students were sitting in the lobby after class, talking about our practices, and a student said, "I always feel like the second I feel as if I've gotten better at posture, I get a whole bunch of corrections. When I was just struggling with the posture, nobody gave me corrections." He was feeling a little discouraged.

Gosh, I think I once blogged about feeling the same way! Once I felt as if I was seeing changes in my postures (during my first challenge), it was like the teachers jumped all over me, expected much more of me, whereas before the challenge, I'd been slogging along there for months with no comments on many of my not-so-great asana.

We were all musing over various corrections we'd been given, and another student asked our teacher about how & when he chose to give feedback.

My teacher said, "I got the shit kicked out of me my whole life, and I don't want to inflict things on others. Some studios demand that you do your teaching in a specific style, but I teach here because I teach best when I'm just being myself. When I give an instruction or a correction and a student isn't doing what I asked him to do, I figure, he either can't physically do it, isn't ready psychologically to do it, or he just doesn't want to do it. If he doesn't want to do it, he's only hurting himself, not me or anyone else, so I just let it be."

I guess the thing that shocked me most was hearing this teacher, a very nice, funny, positive person, say that he'd had the shit kicked out of him his whole life. He is so gentle, so calm, serene. He seems so content, so at peace with the world. I love his classes because his peacefulness permeates the class. He seems so free of suffering and insecurity, yet he's evidently endured some intense hardships in his life.

I guess that I sometimes mistakenly assume that people who are content and happy haven't had the same sorts of problems and obstacles in their lives as those of us who are currently struggling. What a huge mistake!

Similarly, without thinking about it, I found myself making the assumption that B, a woman at our studios who does doubles on a very regular basis and has a beautiful, accomplished practice, doesn't struggle much anymore. It was so surprising to hear her saying what a lousy class she had, how she didn't feel good, wanted to leave the room, was disappointed in her execution of some postures. From a distance, I watch her and think that it looks so easy for her, but it's not.

It's always a challenge. You might not see it unless you look for it, but each of us has our own struggle. We're all human, and we can't live in this beautiful world without experiencing pain and adversity. It's all the more amazing, admirable, and inspiring to see the beauty of someone's practice or feel the calm, positive energy of another yogi or teacher when you consider how much work s/he's done to achieve it.