Friday, February 26, 2010
Alignment in yoga is not rigid. When we are new to yoga, it could be easy to be confused... People want to know that they are doing things "right".
"Is this right?" students have asked me over and over again: because I offer instruction. If someone has practiced for a while and asks that, sometimes I will put it back to them: you (the student) tell me (the one temporarily in the teaching role).
As a teacher, it is my job to see that students are working with the poses in the way that will best serve them. So I do offer plenty of suggestions and modifications as needed. And I am incredibly blessed to have the kind of detailed training that I have had. But if it is the habit of the student to depend on my eyes to see if they are doing it "right", then it might be time to offer another suggestion in line with my goal as a teacher to teach students to work with Yoga themselves.
I am also suspicious of the 'doing things right' question because it can be close to a confirmation of the question: am I a 'good boy' or 'good girl' for the student. And, yes I teach adults. But many of us didn't get the blessing we needed as children. And deeply important questions can remain unanswered like: 'Do I belong here' or 'Is my existence good?' Considering this observation, the expectations of the student-teacher relationship, and my own experience of having this deep subconscious need met in my own adulthood, I respond differently to this sort of question depending on the situation. It depends...
With a new student I teach as well as I can how to do the pose, because we have to start somewhere. And (just know that) I am still learning Yoga too, and I recognize that there is always more to discover and learn. So it is not just "new students" who can learn poses. I think we all can.
If I have the opportunity of seeing the beautiful light of someone's spirit, and I see what might be that needy little boy or girl in someone's eyes who missed their blessing somehow, I will honor and bless them as best as I can.
What I am especially thinking about today are regular students who seem to prefer my acknowledgement that the pose is "right" to their own seasoned sensibilities. There is a time, a wonderful time, to take responsibility for your yoga! And I am still happy to offer support and instruction as needed... But the Yoga is Yours! Fly with It! Explore It! See where you go with It!
The Alignment is Dynamic in so many ways! The shapes of our bodies are different, so my expression of a pose will look different than yours. Also teaching poses to raw beginners is different than teaching seasoned practitioners. And then there is the matter of aligning ones spirit to the expression of the body and outward to expression in the larger world. Totally dynamic.
And just like we need to take responsibility for our yoga when the timing is appropriate, so also do we need to take responsibility for the blessing of our own spiritual inspirition when the timing is appropriate.