Does a teacher do more than lead? A comment was made to me by one of my long time students. The comment was around popular yoga classes. He suggested that people come to classes not to learn but to just feel good. The implication was that my classes were too hard because I asked people to learn the poses versus just following the teacher as he or she called out the poses. Compared to many of the classes that I have attended, I teach what might be called wimpy yoga. I will stop a class if I see too many wild variation of a pose. I will explain the benefit of what we are trying to do. And I will ask for awareness over and over again.
In the years that I have studied yoga, I didn't begin to see some of the much touted benefits of yoga until I actually began to learn the correct movement required to do a asana pose. Call me slow or even dumb, but I had to hear and see the pose repeated many,many times. I strained my way through classes like most students I encounter. It wasn't until Mary Lou, in my teacher training, said to me that I needed to back off in my effort. That statement began the cycle of positive change in myself. Yes, yoga requires more of the mind than of the body, but you do need a level of oomph to do it! And I needed to learn to breath and to let go of my need to be as good as those around me, which wasn't going to happen anyway.
I find that the yogic attitude of compassion can be applied to my massage practice as well. Truthfully, I can't fix anyone. But I can bring a different kind of awareness to a painful area or an area without any awareness. Just because you feel pain in an area, it doesn't mean that it is the source. Your own attitude around overcoming your problem is also part of your healing process. We can not separate one part of the body, like a toy or machine. We are fluid beings with complex wiring.
We develop complicated movement patterns to avoid any owies, boo-boo's. Maybe we failed to get the owners manual upon birth. Maybe we walk and talk like our parents, taking on their injuries not knowing the ramifications of doing so. I fell down, I tripped, I was rear ended, I lift heavy things at odd angles, and on and on the story goes. If you can't relax when touched, then you can't release the excess tension or spasm the the body holds. Communication comes in many forms. Learning to listen is one of the hardest things to do. Going inward is part of the healing process.
So again I ask, does your teacher do more than lead? What have you learned lately about yourself in your yoga class?
P.S.- That's my Viniyoga Therapy training class. Gary reminded us that there are yoga teachers and there are yoga instructors. He wanted us to teach. OM Shanthir, shanthir, shanthi.