I teach. I love to teach, I love having students around me who want to learn and explore their bodies, minds and hearts. I love having students around me who are open to un-learning as much as learning.
I study. I love to study. I love having teachers around me who help me learn and explore. I love teachers, books, classes and videos that challenge me to think, re-think, re-imagine and be prepared to possibly throw what I think out the window.
One of the best moments for me as a teacher is when a student comes up to me and begins a sentence with “last year, when you said…..” I may cringe a little on the inside because I immediately think, “Oh boy, what did I say and do I still say that today? Do I still teach that today?” My practice is constantly evolving therefore my teaching is constantly evolving.
Yoga is not a place where things come to stop. Despite what Patanjali outlines in the Yoga Sutras, my yoga is not about coming to some final point of absorption where I have removed myself from this life. My yoga is a moving, breathing, living, changing thing. As confident as I am as a teacher, when I walked into my first 300 hour training class, I was a student. I let myself learn. And, I let go of some of what I have learned previously because it didn’t make sense anymore. The more I study and look and stay curious, the more I expand as a student and a teacher.
When I first began studying and training I think I wanted someone to tell me specifically what to do. Literally, place your finger here. To. Be. Exact. The more I learn about nature and bodies, the less I think there is an exact place that is right for every person. My idea of alignment now is how do we un-obstruct the pathway to allow for the movement of force and prana? That can look very different in my body compared to anyone else’s body.
There has been a lot of fear-mongering in the yoga community. Lots of instructions that begin with “so you don’t hurt yourself” or “don’t do that or you will hurt yourself” and I question that now. How does a body become more resilient? It happens by receiving stress, by moving and adapting in the safe environment of your yoga mat. Stress is not all bad but that word certainly gets a bad rap. Perhaps turning your knee out while skiing 50 miles per hour down a steep hill with two long levers attached to your feet and your ankles immobilized in ski boots isn’t the best way to apply stress. However, standing mindfully and moving slowly with your breath and allowing your body to move in the many ways it is inherently able to do so? I think that is ok. In fact, I want to do that. So can your front knee in Warrior II actually lean in? Why not? If you can still find a clear pathway down into the earth through your body and you aren’t shearing across your joint, why not? Why do you want to be so precious about your joint that it can never adapt to movement and strain and stress and force? How will a knee ever adapt if you never let the tissues experience force? Sometimes you feel “pain” and there is actually nothing wrong in your body or in the tissue. Sometimes there is something torn or out of whack in there and you don’t experience pain at all. This is body mechanics. This is a living, breathing, changing body. Why do we want there to be some exact answer about this, why is this way of thinking about postures and bodies so resisted in the yoga community at large?
Can you be in your breath and in the fluidity of your body and be happy when it looks like you, not like a picture in a magazine? Who are you in this?
I want students to feel empowered and strong in their bodies. We adapt to how we use our bodies, so USE them, in all ways. Your nervous system creates based on your thoughts. If you are in the mindset of “I am going to hurt myself”, then you probably will. It takes effort to pull yourself out of that way of thinking.
Sitting is the new smoking. That is a phrase I have heard. But, really sitting is not bad. It just should not be the only way you move in a day. If you stand at a desk all day, that is just as “bad” because you have just traded one stagnant position for another. Here are some things you can try:
- Get in your body and move.
- Don’t use your hands and try to get yourself up off the floor.
- Roll around and feel the fluid of your body.
- Press into spaces that haven’t been touched or awakened.
- Turn your knee out and turn it back in again.
- Let the breath be your initiator, let the organ begin the movement, follow the pathway of your blood, drop into the marrow of your bone. There is so much to explore.
Your body is a wonderland (thank you John Mayer). Live and feel and experience all that is you. Get comfortable in your body, get curious and let the mind rest. Feel into the knowing.
You don’t talk your way into support, it is an experience. You feel it. When the mind stays so busy, it can dampen the feeling. It can keep you out of the feeling. And perhaps what you feel at first isn’t so great. So, go slow and give yourself room to be., but, don’t stop exploring and moving. Never stop knowing and forgetting. Never stop learning and un-learning.
Be the student and the teacher.