Friday, February 18, 2011

Challanges and Being Present

A class attendee commented to me that my posts have been a bit slow of late, and I readily agreed.  It's been a bit difficult lately to find inspiration both to blog and for class.  I'm chalking it up to the winter doldrums - that time of winter when it becomes hard to do winter activities because the snow has gone to crap but it's too early to start spring activities like biking because, well, the roads are crap. 

However, I have been cogitating on this recent post by Poep Sa (Dharma Teacher) Frank Jude Buccio on Mindfulness Yoga: the February Daily Practice - Right Communication.

Now, let me admit right off the bat I absolutely, completely, and utterly detest, anything that involves a 30 day or 40 day practice.  Loathe might be a better description.  This applies to "journaling" as well.  This just a personal quirk and I acknowledge that. 

But...this one intrigued me.

Poep Sa notes in one paragraph (full post linked to above):
First, let’s review Telephone Meditation. For many of us, the phone is at times a distraction, at times a task-master and oppressor. When the phone rings, many of us have been conditioned to jump and answer on the first ring. Yet, we often find ourselves distracted during the phone conversation when we do so, because we haven’t stopped or turned away from what we had been doing when the phone rang, and we aren’t really fully present to the person on the other end of the line. We are caught in a kind of in-between place, and whenever we have called someone who is in a similar situation, we can find ourselves irritated with the half-hearted attention we are getting from the person we called.

Oh so true! So true!  What I find fascinating is, I can easily ignore the phone at home and - most of the time the computer as well. a good place to be ignoring either, but I do find that I will be talking to someone and still be working on the computer, neither task nor person getting my full attention.   
I also find I have a tendency to "Ping".  By this I mean I will - much like a ping-pong ball - bounce from thing to thing.  E-mail alert! I ping over to read it, start to answer, then Ping! I bounce back to what I was working on before...Ping! I forgot I wanted to finish this task over here...Ping!  Well, you get the idea.  Nothing is really getting my complete attention for very long and I'm very fragmented in my tasks.  Everything still gets done, but, it's...fragmented.  I have grown tired of being so easily distracted. 
Poep Sa goes on to recommend:
So, next time the phone rings, stop what you are doing, and take a breath or two or three, depending on how slowly you breathe. Just stop, breathe in, breathe out, mindfully pick up the phone and answer. You will be offering your full presence to whomever has called. You will have stopped being a slave to the phone.

The practice is similar whenever we hear our phone signal that we’ve received a text message, or when our computer ‘pings’ the arrival of an e-mail. Stop what you’re doing, take three breaths and then read the message or e-mail. Again, you will be more fully present, undistracted, and free.

So, instead of making this a designated "30 day challenge" my goal is to try and be aware of my "multi-tasking" on a daily basis.  Period.  
To try to be aware and in the present moment when I talk to someone on the phone or e-mail them.  I have been on the receiving end of someone who is more interested in watching TV or is on the computer than talking to me, even if they initiated the call, and I understand what a poor impression it can make. 
To try to be aware and in the present moment as I move from task to task.  Finish one to completion, then move on. 
To try to be aware and in the present moment, to, as recommended, Stop what you’re doing, take three breaths and then read the message or e-mail. Again, you will be more fully present, undistracted, and free.

So far, while I'm not there 100% yet, I am becoming more aware of my actions, and it's when I'm aware of my actions that I feel I can take those few breaths, ground and center, and become more present.  I'll try and remember to let you know how it goes. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Instructor discussion - student needs

I wasn't sure how to title this post.  I also wasn't sure if I even wanted to bring this up, but if it has happened to me, perhaps it has happened to someone else out in blog world and I can solicit some advise.

How, as an instructor, can I accommodate a special needs or challenged student within the parameters of the class structure in which I am already teaching? 

The Class - I lead two vinyasa/power yoga classes a week at my local YMCA.  I have been here for three years, and on any given day we have mixed group (beginners, regulars, drop-ins, experienced practitioners) numbering between oh, 12 and 20 attendees.  Lately closer to 20. 

The Situation - I get new people all the time.  Some just try it out, some end up staying.  Sometimes I recommend one of the other yoga classes offered (Hatha, Sivananda, Yin).  Recently, I had a new student come, never done yoga but claims to have done ballet and jazz.  I realized immediately that they were very much out of their element, even with specific cuing, and hands-on demonstrating.  I talked to them after class and recommended a different session but due to bus schedules, it won't work.  

The Concern -  This individual has a difficult time listening and processing cues, very poor eye to body coordination (cannot look at the person next to them/across from them and mimic the pose), and is usually about two poses behind, which I strongly suspect is due more to thought process than ability.  I cannot give them the one-one instruction they need without compromising the flow of class and the other students.  

Lately I've been doing  "technique flow" (as I call it - my way of integrating technique into vinyasa class; always good to review basics) but it doesn't seem to be helping.  This past week I put the students into a wide stance forward fold, left hand on the floor under your nose, raise right hand toward the ceiling.  This student called me over because they "didn't get it".   They didn't understand the cue, even with 15 people to watch.    I'm not sure I could have made it any more clear? 

So, before I loose my patience (which I know is not very yogic of me), how can I accommodate both student AND the rest of class? 

Suggestions?  Tips? 

In gratitude....