Friday, October 1, 2010

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.


  1. This is an incredibly beautiful post. It radiates compassion!

  2. Wow. That's quite a post. Thank you--I needed some thought-provoking writing this morning! It's good to remember that we can't assume we know what's going on with folks.

  3. I love this. We each do have our own struggles and it is definitely the beauty of overcoming those that pulls us together as yogis. Great post!