Saturday, 15 September 2012

Day 2 and I haven’t run away yet, despite the back-breaking manual and daunting prospect of teaching other yogis to be yogis.  The second class was certainly encouraging, but also challenging. 

One of the first statements in our teaching manual is “Get out of the ‘I, Me, Mine’ mode of thinking”.  Easier said than done.  I know yoga is a practice of self-reflection, but (like everyone else in the Western world!) I’m used to looking at myself from the outside and seeing myself the way I think other people see me.  In a recent interview (you should read it here), Tara Stiles was talking about how one of the problems with competitive yoga and the rise of the celebrity yogi, is that it makes yoga about the outside-in, rather than reflecting on the inside-out.  She’s right, but it’s certainly not a simple thing to let go of the outside world. 

On top of these neurotic insecurities, I’m still recovering from jet-lag and felt ridiculously tired going into class, despite sleeping mostly solidly through the night.  So, while I was struggling through a very basic Hatha class, I kept wondering if the other women around me were noticing that I was incapable of maintaining balance in a simple Vrksasana (Tree), or that I wasn’t feeling strong enough for a shoulder stand, or that my cussing tank top kept riding up under my ribs while I was in Downward-facing Dog. 
Thankfully, by the time I collapsed into Savasana, I was too exhausted to care. 

The second part of the session was an introduction to learning the poses and their anatomy.  We discussed Sankrit and how it’s used in modern yoga, before launching into some instruction, starting off with Tadasana (Mountain pose).  In theory, it’s a simple standing pose, but there’s a lot of anatomical jargon that goes into it and a lot of ways to instruct a person on how to simply stand.  Check out how my super-gross anatomy book guy -

Our instructors demonstrated how they would work with a student, and then we paired off to ‘teach’ each other.  There was that moment of childish giggling over how silly it is to teach each other how to stand straight and still, but my partner for this exercise really demonstrated to me how important it can be to hear another person’s interpretation of a pose.  While I’ve always thought of standing feet hip-width apart and softening my knees, she encouraged me to rock forward onto my toes, back onto my heels, and then find balance on the four corners of both feet.  I tried it and it worked better for me than any instruction I’d ever received from a yoga teacher.  So, this whole group teaching thing works then! 

The next step is to make notes in my manual about the benefits of the pose, cautions, how to adjust a student, and instruction suggestions (ie tuck your tail bone, engage your core muscles, lift and roll back your shoulders, lengthen out of the top of your head, gently rotate your palms to face up).


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