June 24, 2010

I-anger (Iyengar)

That's another term for Iyengar, an alignment based yoga method taught by the renowned, late, Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois. I went to Yogaworks last night for a class and while it was amazing to be there with all the state of the art, posh-bling features that the studio possesses. I couldn't quite move past my own judgement.

Ok, ok, whoah.. hold the phones here. But Brandon, YOU are a yoga teacher and why the heck were you judging in the first place (Oy, this may take a while). First, I'm still practicing, learning, practicing, learning. Second, I'm a human being and let's face it, we ALL judge, everyone, even YOU, the person reading this right now. But so what if we judge. What comes first and foremost as my own practice is discernment. I judge, then discern, then the judging wanes and opens to being compassionate. That's been my own path. I can see that I am judging and when I do this what gets cut off is love, self expression (my own), affinity, laughter, lightness, being, breath, all of it. But it's natural to judge so naturally we must notice this and move into a space of looking at where the judgement is coming from, what we are getting from it and what it's costing us.

Back to last night's Iyengar class. Where was the connection of posture with breathing? It didn't show up. "Open your chest by lifting your ribcage, tuck your tailbone in, suck in your stomach." I was dying to teach that breath will naturally move everything into alignment, how could he be missing this and more-so teaching this! 'Move my body into a dome?'-What the heck does that mean? 'Make my leg a square?'-Huh? Then when the teacher taught us to outstretch our arms from the socket by pulling our shoulder blades in, I have to say I killed him off, right then and there in that moment. But why?

I noticed myself being a statue of grey toned stoicism hiding all the thoughts, including 'externally rotating the shoulders at the joint is what holds the arms and shoulders in the socket so why are you teaching this way b/c it's wrong.' But again, not important b/c I was still portraying a grotesque Rodin-like statue, yogi in disguise, and that's not who I want to be.

In yoga and in our lives, what really is important here. Getting it right? Probably not. Teaching it correctly? I would say yes but then what is it to teach 'correctly?' So maybe not that either although it's still important. Being with breath, present, alive and inspired. Come on, totally yes.  At least for me it is. And maybe this is the yoga that I realize I want to teach?

I could understand that the teacher was doing his best, giving his all and only knows what he knows. So why should I judge silently pretending to be happy? Ok, I gave that up. I wasn't too happy in class last night. I allowed the cynicism to come out. I didn't like it. But I didn't hide it either, and that may have been the gold. To me I conceptually get that everyone and everything is my teacher if I am willing to be open to the lesson. Whethere I get the lesson or not is a different story. I was willing last night. I learned that when I allow myself to be true to myself, even if it's by showing resignation and cynicism, I will eventually move into a compassionate place. Eventually, it passed and I began to consider all the different styles and ways one can learn, practice and teach yoga. There are many, especially in New York. I began to see the teacher in a new light where I could be compassionate and a contribution to his class just by being present. And what came next was the best. I saw my deep commitment to teaching yoga and how I am at the next level of the journey as a new teacher and what I am sure to bump up against as a teacher.

Because if I was this way in this guy's class, someone is sure to be that way in mine. So how can I empower myself as a teacher and my students? How can I teach so everyone is taken care of? I'm not sure exactly, not just yet. Although, I'm stoked to teach this lineage and modify my own teaching practice to empower students with movement and breath with what inspires them and how they can remain more present and compassionate with themselves. Ready?


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