Yoga is rich, magical, fierce, nothing short of transformative...and it has saved my life innumerable times. Recently, however, despite my dedication to the process and devotion to my teachers, this whole Western take of yoga is just pissing me off. To the point of being done teaching, taking and even studying it.
About a week ago, I had a new person in my class. It was a New Years Day practice and the theme was closely related to beginning again. The 90 minute class consisted of very simple (not simplistic) fundamental poses broken down for alignment and integration detail. After class, I spoke with everyone for a minute or so...including the new girl. She was sweet (acting). Listed her accomplishments and let me know who she’d recently finished a teacher training with. I thanked her for coming and made small chit chat. I was later informed by a long-time student of mine who’d brought her to my class how “disappointed” the new girl was in not building up a sweat...and how it had been a long time since she’d been to a “Barney” class (ie, beginners class).
After I finished feeling defensive and hurt. I realized that maybe, just MAYBE, it wasn’t entirely her fault for being unconscious and just plain rude...(well...it is mostly her fault...I’ll give her that.) But who’s the teacher that “trained” her? Did they completely leave out one of the most important tenets of yoga schools...”Beginner’s Mind”? Since I wasn’t in her training I can’t say with certainty. Perhaps she just zoned out on that part...or maybe she hasn’t absorbed the teaching. I know it has taken me years, even decades, to understand and integrate some of the teachings into my practice. But, when I met my true teacher that was the FIRST lesson I remember. Or at least, that is the first time I recall understanding it. But. Like most teachers, I’ve been through a half-dozen or more teacher trainings and continue to take one every two years or so. To maintain Beginner’s Mind...certainly not to lose it.
Remaining a true life-long student is humbling. It has to be. A student can only continue to learn if she surrenders to the Grace of the teachings. I have not always understood this. In fact, after my first training I was pretty arrogant (this is a common phenomenon, by the way...). Fully believed I knew it all...
It was about the third training (and six years in) I was finally ready to admit I didn’t know shit.
It was unusually freeing to realize what really makes a good teacher (not to mention STUDENT...) is being present and humble and OPEN to receive the spirit...(sounds a little “churchy” I know...). Attending trainings has become a “reality check” for me...instead of judging the material for what I already know, I am fully open and present to what the teacher brings. The teaching is MORE than the material.
So. I ask myself, what has this student taught me? (Because, students have often been my greatest teachers...)
-Once again, humility. To remember that everyone has different modes and timelines of processing.
-To not take anything personally (that’s a really hard one, for me.).
-And, maybe this is yet another catalyst that will take me to my next level of teaching.
They say what you find irritating about another person is showing you something about yourself. So. Was it her behavior in the way she “trash-talked” my class to one of my dearest students? Was it the fact that I’ve been doubting my own efficacy as a teacher? Could it be that she is 15 years (at least) younger than me and I’m longing for the return of my lean(er) youth...? Maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to bail on this teacher gig...
Or. *sigh (exhale)
Is it simply a reminder for me to remain ever present, open to Grace, and humble...?
I’d like to take the latter. Tape it to my mirror. Repeat it as my mantra...
“My New Year’s RESOLUTION!”
Amen. Rock on.