Friday, October 21, 2011

Teaching and Taking Classes

Bear with me - I had a convoluted thought process regarding this post: 

First - Yoga North switched up their schedule a bit this Fall, which enabled me to take a class right after the one I lead on Thursdays.  I'm not completely thrilled about being in town for 13 hours, but the class and timing worked out so I can cope for one day a week.

Second - As I was leaving afore mentioned class a couple weeks ago, a student recognized me and expressed surprise that the 'teacher' was taking a class.  I smiled and said, "Yup!" (I'm not one for platitudes like "oh, we are all students".  Just sounds so hoity toity.).  There are actually three instructors from the studio taking this particular session. 

Lastly -  Ecoyogini wrote a blog post regarding a home practice (Yoga Class Dropout) as it relates to taking classes in Halifax a while back, which got me to thinking about home and studio practices.

And I realized something about why me, myself and I, don't care for a home practice.

I lead 4-5  classes a week.  I work full time.  I leave the house at 730am in the morning and I don't get home till after 500p on non-yoga nights.  Yoga nights it's after 700p.   I have a Husband, two active dogs,  and a house.  Finding time at home what with yard work - we live on 40 acres, our yard is an acre unto itself, I have a HUGE garden - dinner, laundry, spouse time, etc, is...problematic.   I don't feel comfortable practicing at home.  It's my space to unwind, relax, chill, take a load off.  Trying to do asana at home makes me edgy and irritable. 

But there was more to it.  When I do my own practice, I want to be able to turn my brain off completely. I don't want to be thinking of yet another routine. I do that 4-5x a week as it is.  When I do an asana practice, I want to be able to just enjoy the practice for what it is, not be thinking about, "oh, I could do this in class!" or "this is cool, the Thursday class would enjoy this!" or "Awesome routine! I need to write this down..."  I don't want to be jiggling the mouse on my computer when it goes to sleep mid-stretch.  I don't want to be locking myself in a room.  I hate locking myself in a room to do yoga...

If I'm in a studio setting, my focus stays on my practice.  Not my upcoming class, not wondering if the husband forgot the dogs outside, not thinking that I should be doing laundry/dishes/cleaning/yardwork/relaxing.

This, I thought, was huge revelation about myself.  Interesting...


Picture found on the web by googling Buddha pictures.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Disappointing Encounter

About a month ago, Yoga North held their Fall Open House.  A splendid affair where the studio opens its doors to the community, giving new folks and regulars a chance to take a small demo class of upcoming sessions, meet the instructors, munch on a splendid buffet and browse the books and props and other stuff for sale.

A new to the area gal was directed my way; she was interested in the vinyasa class and wanted to know if it was anything like what she used to take in her former City.  She described to me what she did, and I replied, "Yes, that is similar to my class." 

She didn't seem reassured, so I asked for elaboration on how her class used to be structured, and again, nodded and replied, "Yes, that is similar to how I lead a class."

She still didn't seem reassured, so I elaborated on exactly what I do in any given session. 

I could see doubt continued to linger, and then she asked me, do I give handouts? 

Surprised I had to reply, "No, why do you ask?"

Well, she wanted something to take home to practice.  I had to politely explain that I don't write down my class sequence for any given day because I tend to make it up as I go along.  What I do really depends on who shows up, what someone may request, what kind of mood I am in and what I did in my noon class.  I don't give handouts because people have perceived these as "homework" and for working adults, that is usually ill received. 

Uncertain now myself, I concluded the conversation with encouragement to just come and try out a class, but the encounter left me feeling like I had let someone down.  All because I don't do 'handouts'.   Interesting.

Picture from  Wren in the rain.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

10 Questions that Should Not Go Away by David Whyte

Part 10 of 10


June 15, 2011
The thought-provoking poet David Whyte considers what we should be asking ourselves—especially when we least want to confront our own answers.

The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by the asking as it does by the answering. Nine years ago, I wrote a poem called "Sometimes" in which I talked about the "questions that can make or unmake a life ... questions that have no right to go away."

I still work with this idea. Questions that have no right to go away are those that have to do with the person we are about to become; they are conversations that will happen with or without our conscious participation. They almost always have something to do with how we might be more generous, more courageous, more present, more dedicated, and they also have something to do with timing: when we might step through the doorway into something bigger, better—both beyond ourselves and yet more of ourselves at the same time.

If we are sincere in asking, the eventual answer will give us both a sense of coming home to something we already know as well a sense of surprise—not unlike returning from a long journey to find an old friend sitting unexpectedly on the front step, as if she'd known, without ever being told, not only the exact time and date of your arrival but also your need to be welcomed back.

10) Can I be the blessed saint that my future happiness will always remember?

Here's the explanation for what sounds like a strange question. I have a poem called "Coleman's Bed" about a place in the West of Ireland where the Irish saint Coleman lived. The last line of that poem calls on the reader to remember "the quiet, robust and blessed saint that your future happiness will always remember."

We go to places of pilgrimage where saints have lived, or even to Graceland, where Elvis lived, because these people gave something to the rest of us—music or good works— that has carried on down the years and that was a generous gift to the future.

But that blessed saint could also be yourself—the person who, in this moment, makes a decision that can make a bold path into the years to come and whom your future happiness will always remember. What could you do now for yourself or others that your future self would look back on and congratulate you for—something it could view with real thankfulness because the decision you made opened up the life for which it is now eternally grateful?

David Whyte is the author of The Three Marriages, Crossing the Unknown Sea, and several poetry collections

Frank Lloyd Wright, Taliesen East, WI