Posted by: kgnarlym | February 4, 2013

No Poor Teachers, Only Poor Students: Let YourSelf Learn Well.

This morning was a brutal one. My weekend was full of unwise dietary choices. I could feel all of them joining forces as I dragged myself out of bed.

As I arrived at the gym to teach my yoga class, the desk staff told me that they needed a sub to teach the 9:30 class. Yuck. But, of course, I am not about to sit around and let the class go untaught since I am already there, and am the only one in the room for that 9:30 class who is on the payroll…might as well make some bank.

It’s always kinda bizzarre to teach someone else’s class, especially when you are a regular attendee of it. There’s a lot of subtle internal pressure, and obvious external expectation. I have been learning to handle the internal aspect better as I am put in the position more and more…but it is always rather gnarly. As for the external aspect, I am hopeful that the other yogis are learning to handle it well. I like to think this basic element of my philosphy shines through when I teach under these circumstances: we are ALL knowledgeable yogis. I never pretend to be an Expert, and I have learned to be wary of those who parade around as such. I like to stay both humbled and inspired by people who have a Practice beyond the scope and range of my own because it constantly reminds me of this.

And yet, there are some important, perhaps even quintessential, aspects of Yoga that many gifted and well-practiced yogis do not excel at. Especially in the environment I teach in, at a big-box gym, it is almost always the mental component that is underserved or developed. A culture of sweat and “no-pain, no-gain” encourages people to push to their limits all the time, and many newer students are frequently going over-board in their pursuit of “keeping up.”

I have begun to carve out a niche as a teacher who doesn’t the most difficult or fast-paced classes. If anything I have a reputation of teaching a slower and more “senior-friendly” class. I don’t make it a point to teach arm-balances or advanced inversions, nor do I move the pace quicker than what would be described as an intermediate pace. All of those things have a place in my personal Practice, but there is no shortage of instructors who relish these and excel at delivering them. At the expense of being the most-popular intructor or having the best numbers, I have stuck to what is True to me, and every so often when I sub for some of these instructors, I meet with someone who really appreciates the change in approach.

One lady came up to me after the class and told me that the Practice was exactly what she needed. That never ceases to be the best feeling! It’s so great when the Universe sends a reminder that you’re on the right path, even when it isn’t a popular path.

I could easily write an entire post blathering on about this exclusively, but all of this has been a tangent, strictly speaking. I had a point when I set out…

after the class was over, I played around a little with some headstands and some other free movement… and eventually I settled into a standing meditation.

While there, I brought almost all of my weight onto my left leg and began to play with arm variations. I have used the same two variations (and they are awful close as it is) for my entire “career” of standing meditation, so this was no minor event! I spent a total of about 20 minutes in the meditation which is incredible for me, and I kept to an arm position in which the palms turn outward, rather than having the palms facing the body as I have always done.

I don’t know what compelled this change, but I am so glad to have experienced something so new in a Practice that I have struggled to keep active and exciting. It’s just like I am so fond of saying: “you’re only as bored as you are boring.”

If there is a way to tie this whole ramble into a neat little knot, it must be this:

When things feel easy or become stagnant, when we lose our zest and passion, it is always our own responsibility to look inward, to be Free enough to let intuition guide us toward the stones we haven’t turned over for a while, or ever.

In Yoga especially, I think the saying “there are no poor Teachers, only poor Students” applies. When we are confronted with an instructor who has a style or approach that seems easy, this is an opportunity to go deeper and fine-tune our practice and to be grateful for how able-bodied we are and are becoming. Confronted with a teacher who is unskilled or haphazard, we have the opportunity to learn about what does and does not resonate with us.

Everything has purpose and can be made Useful, if only we are willing to be open and to discover!

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