Wednesday, November 14, 2012

confessions of a yoga teacher

At 30+, I still get *slightly* giddy over pretty notebooks.

I will preface my "confessions" by saying that these are just personal preferences and tendencies, not judgments or evaluative statements about practices or preferences that are different from mine. It takes all kinds to make the yoga world go round.

Here goes...

~ I don't wake up at the butt-crack of dawn for a 2-hour asana and meditation practice. I stumble out of bed with my eyes half closed, head to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face, and then head to the kitchen because my stomach is grumbling.

~ I need my stimulants (i.e., espresso/cappuccino in the fall/winter, Earl Grey tea in the spring/summer) in the morning to get going.

~ I wish I could say I drink a freshly-made green juice every morning. But I'm more likely to have a chocolate croissant with said stimulants above. Or cake. But I do eat my greens at lunch and dinner.

~ Needless to say, I don't "salute the sun" with surya namaskara (sun salutations) in the morning. I will at sunset though. Or in the evening.

~ Sometimes, depending on what else is going on, my asana practice is just child's pose or a yin-style forward bend. That's it.

 ~ I don't chant OM in my practice. Or chant anything. Not to say I didn't try for a good long while. I understand the meaning behind OM, but I'd rather meditate on something that resonates more deeply and more personally with me (like a favorite prayer). I say it silently to myself. But if I am taking a class and the teacher leads the group through OM or a chant, I gladly listen.

~ On that note, I don't chant OM when I teach either. It's not that I'm "against" it. But if it's not in my own practice, how can I genuinely teach it?

~ I don't do crazy arm balances effortlessly like Kathryn Budig or Seane Corn. I've become more and more cautious over the years about the limitations of my physical body (and the fear of crashing on my face and losing a tooth). But I have done some crazy things like 108 sun salutations during the summer solstice.

~ I'm not crazy flexible. Gone are the childhood gymnastics days of straddle-split-chest-on-floor stretches. There are just certain things my body doesn't do, which I now have a deeper understanding of - thanks to the concepts of tension, compression, and proportion (with credit to Paul Grilley - his anatomy DVD changed my yoga world).

~ Related to the previous point above, I have never, and probably won't ever, sit in a full lotus. And that is ok, because my hips just won't seem to move that way and I love my knees too much to compromise them for what my hips can't do. And I want my hips and knees to carry me through old age 50+ years from now.

~ Although I know yoga is not really just about the physical poses - because the physical practice is just 1/8 of the entire yoga philosophy - sometimes, I really, really, really just want to "get it" while in a revolved triangle (not one of my faves). And I won't deny that I let out an excited squeal when I went up in a headstand for the first time during my yoga teacher training.

~ I never really liked the term "advanced" to describe someone who practices yoga. Someone once asked me if I were "advanced". I asked him, "what do you mean?" I truly believe in what my first teacher, Anna, said: "Always have a beginner's perspective." And I feel it in my muscles, my joints, and my mind every time I step onto the mat. The body doesn't lie.

~ And on that note, I would much rather use the term "committed" than "advanced" to describe someone who regularly practices yoga.

~ I hit a plateau in my yoga practice a few years ago. I just wasn't "feeling it" for some reason. But I definitely came back to it with a deeper appreciation the second time around. And it really drove the "beginner's perspective" home for me.

 ~ Sometimes I come in with a detailed plan (written down) for how I'm going to teach class. Sometimes I have a general plan in my head. It all depends - and it largely depends on who shows up.

~ I often get my right and left sides confused while teaching. Especially when I'm facing the group.

~ I've gone from omnivore to vegetarian (lacto-ovo) to "vegan" (" " used intentionally, because it lasted 2, maybe 3 weeks max - no matter what I do, I just do not get the same results when I bake with things like Earth Balance. I want the real-deal butter. I have Julia Child to thank.)... so I went back to vegetarian to most recently an occasional pescetarian. Dessert, however, is a mainstay. Always was, always will be. 

~ Though I'm pretty good at choosing what I eat and cooking things from scratch most of the time, I'm just as likely to make my own kimchi as I am to open a bag of Cape Cod salt + vinegar chips every now and then.

~ I don't remember all the Sanskrit names for the asanas (poses).

~ I'm not perfectly outfitted in color-coordinated Lululemon from head to toe. Target and Gap workout clothes work just fine for me (and my wallet).

~ I try my best to be a mindful and ethical consumer ("reduce-reuse-recycle"), but I am just as likely to reduce my use of plastic as I am to lust over a beautifully made, high-quality leather bag that will last for years.

~ I prefer not to have incense burning during yoga (whether I teach or attend a class). Especially if it's patchouli. But if it's already burning when I enter a yoga room, I'll just position myself far away from it.

~ I'm not a huge fan of "hot" yoga. I've tried it a few times, but I really just prefer regular room temperature. 

~ I don't plan my yoga music playlist ahead of time like I know some (or a lot of) teachers do.

~ I'm not relaxed and blissed-out 100% of the time which seems to be the general yoga teacher stereotype. I have anxiety and insomnia. And several years ago I suffered from depression too. There, I said it. But this experience deepened my yoga practice like no other.

~ And truth be told... you won't regularly find me in a cross-legged seated position, fingers in a mudra, and eyes closed, meditating. I try, I really do. It is a practice, after all. But I meditate better while swimming than I do while seated.

Yoga teachers or yogis/yoginis: 'fess up! I'd love to hear the quirks that make you "you".

Pin It!


Misty said...

I loved reading this! I couldn't help giggle in agreement with many of the points, like getting lefts and rights confused (oh brother!) and not being perfectly outfitted in Lululemon. I always feel like I am the only one in a yoga class that doesn't have a fancy yoga mat and pair of LL pants on.

Thanks for sharing... I may have to write my own version, this was too cute.

Your fellow yoga soul sista xo

Mia (Savor Everyday) said...

Misty, I would love to hear your yoga teacher "confessions"! Or maybe I should re-word that as "truths" (it's all about satya, right?)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...