15 April, 2012

Farewell, Erin

Today was 75 minutes of Hatha with Erin.

It was the last 75 minutes of Hatha that we'll have with Erin at Urban Yoga Spa. I had no idea that she was going to be leaving, and it does make me a little sad, since I enjoyed her classes.

One of the things that I'll always remember about Erin is that she would always approach every single person whom she did not recognize, and introduce herself before class, and ask their names. And she would remember their names. I honestly don't know how someone can walk around a room with 15 or 20 new faces, and retain that much information. But Erin seemed to do it. I felt that this effort made a special connection with the class.

Another thing about Erin that was unique was that she taught using a very physically-oriented dialog. She did not speak much about the mind, or about philosophy of practice, or about any of her own experiences; the instruction came from a very specific series of guiding steps through breath, body alignment, metaphors for the desired physical experience in the poses. She did this in a manner that created inspiration and encouragement.

This, of course, is not to say that I don't love the styles of other instructors, who might talk a lot about thoughts in our practice, or share their own hearts as a way of connecting with the class; not at all. But it sets Erin aside as an instructor whom you really want to have in your weekly schedule along with the other classes, because of the contrast.

All that said, today's class was so humid I thought I was going to die! I seemed to be suffering more than the average person, based on glances around the room, so I suspect this was a function of my own mind, and where I was in my practice today. The poses felt great, and it was an enjoyable class, but the last half hour was a battle in my mind. Whenever I find myself feeling tortured during the floor portion of a Hatha class, I know it's got to be my mind. At that point, the intense work is over. The balancing poses are done. The heart rate really only elevates one more time, for Floor Bow, but I'm feeling like I cannot stand one more minute.

Today, Erin suggested that when we feel the struggle or challenge in a pose, to try to move toward the discomfort, rather than to retreat away from it. And, to do this, we use the breath. It's a noble intention, but difficult to execute, when the thought machine starts racing. Though I had my fifteen minutes of spiraling late in the class, I did manage to pull my mind back in with breath during Pigeon pose at the end of the class. Small victories. Tiny arrivals.

Wishing Erin the best. Her style will be missed.

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