Thursday, 27 September 2012

About half way through our compulsory power vinyasa class last night, I started to wonder how big a deal it would be if I asked to attend a different class.  This option was suggested on our first day in training, in case we preferred to take another class in a different style, but I don’t think the possibility was raised in case we didn’t like the teacher.  And I don’t.  I’ve tried.  I’ve been trying for three weeks and his classes just make me frustrated and angry.  This has happened to me before.  I’ve previously attended classes with teachers who haven’t been right for me; some have not been very professional, some have been too aggressive or even too lax in their teaching style, and some have simply just not been my cup of tea.  This particular teacher is just not my particular cup of tea and last night it was really getting to me.  It was virtually all I thought about, all the way through the practice.  But surely I couldn’t possibly ask to opt out of the class?  That would make me the only YTT student not attending, and that would make me feel silly whilst separating me from my peers. 

I was so tired after practice that I was delighted to discover we were having a philosophy session.  Great, all I had to do was sit quietly and listen and make a few notes. Part of our training is learning about the history and philosophy of yoga, not just the physical elements of the practice.  This means studying the Yoga Sutras and understanding how all elements of this ancient practice come together to creative a happy and healthy lifestyle. Our first foray into the sutras is Ahimsa, or the practice of non-violence, violence being physical harm, speaking against others and thinking against others.  This practice of non-violence also applies to us as individuals, recognising harmful actions, words and thoughts against ourselves.  

At one point, one of our teachers had been talking about how people bring things into a class with them – their worries, their sadness, their stress – and how it can leak out into their practice.  This is often nothing to do with the teacher.  Sometimes it is, but very often it’s about you as the student.  “If you think a class was shitty,” she said, “why was it shitty?  Where were you?”  Pretty poignant after I’d spent an hour and 15 minutes rolling my eyes at a teacher during practice...  Why was it shitty?  What really bugged me about it?  After all, yoga is an experiential practice, so if you’re not enjoying the experience, what are you going to do about it?  As I said, I could ask to change classes – I could just stop attending this problem class and wipe my hands clean.  Or I could make it work for me.  Every time he tells us to put out feet together in Downward Dog before leading us into Warrior 1 and lecturing us about keeping our feet apart on train tracks (two cues which do not go together in my mind), I could stop following his cues, stop hopping around and rearranging my feet in an angry huff, and just ignore him – follow my own instincts, keep my feet hips distance and avoid the hustle of what I consider to be bad sequencing.  Every time he sets up a flow and then stops it suddenly with an order to hold something longer, halting the flow and the breath, I can simply ignore him and move and breathe in the best way that serves me.  Every time he makes a truly horrendous joke, I can simply ignore him and breathe.  It’s my practice, not his.  That is where I am

And because sometimes, the problem really is the teacher…

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