04 May, 2013

Being there for others is sometimes just being there

Today was Power Vinyasa at Be Luminous.

It was the culmination of a five month teacher training, featuring one long, 2 hour class, taught by all 27 of the students who took part in the training. There were members of Be Luminous staff there to assist, observe, and show support. And there were about 30 students who came to participate in the event.

I don't know what compelled me to take this particular class. I was tired, and definitely not feeling like two hours of yoga would be a good idea for me. But something just clicked in my mind that I should show up for it. Who knows why.

Each teacher would have about 5 minutes to teach. The class closely followed (if not exactly) the Journey Into Power series, with teachers trading off sometimes between the left and right side of a sequence, and sometimes between sequences. I won't lie. It was a difficult, and enlightening experience. Being that 27 teachers makes for an obviously disjointed yoga class, I will share my thoughts about it in a disjointed fashion as well.

Each new voice was an interesting stimulus, creating a tiny disruption to the flow. I won't call it "distraction" because I don't attach a negative connotation to it. But there was a curiosity with each new voice. What would this teacher be like? How confident would they sound? What message would they convey, if any, in addition to the few poses they would be leading?

I found myself looking up, each time the instructor changed, since I needed to put the face with the voice. It might have been challenging to do such a class with eyes closed the entire time. The teachers were quite varied in style, although they all went through the exact same training. I can only imagine what some of the factors are that underlie the differences. Of course, personality, preparedness, nervousness, the particular poses they're teaching.

As you might expect, the flows were not entirely without surprises. And, in this forum, it was easy to take that as it came, without frustration, without losing focus. Sometimes we might just miss the left side of a sequence. Sometimes we might be breathing out when the instruction is to breath in. Sometimes we might be halfway lifting when we were expecting to stand up tall. This is life, though. The structure of the sequence in a yoga class is a bit artificially predictable and perfected. Life isn't so kind to give us what we expect next. Teachers often challenge our minds, intentionally, by mixing up a sequence to break that cycle of expectation. But even that is a well-choreographed plan. If yoga class were real life, then sometimes completely random and crazy things would happen in class, throwing everyone into chaos. That doesn't happen. And it didn't happen here either. It was just an opportunity to flip the yoga class around the other way. For these teachers, we were showing up to give them someone to lead. It's always the case, right? If Baptiste himself showed up at a studio, but there were no students present, it would not be a yoga class. But the difference here was that these teachers were counting on us to be there for them, to have this experience they've been working toward. This was like the opening night of a play.

The class absolutely destroyed me, because each new teacher arrived with boatloads of energy, yet my energy was waning as the time elapsed. I was operating on a poor night's sleep, and it was a two hour class, double what I have been doing of late. I did the best I could, and then heeded my body's commands, and started taking knees-down Chaturanga, and eventually started just flat-out resting toward the very end. My towel was soaked like the olden days of 108 degree classes, but this was not from extreme heat, but rather, from the duration of moderate heat. As I was on my back, and a new teacher came up to teach, I had a moment's thought of "Am I not showing up for this person? Shouldn't I get my ass in gear and do this poses for them? The last thing they probably want to see is someone in the front row who isn't even doing the poses that they are calling!" But I thought about it only briefly, and decided (not just letting myself off the hook) that this is my practice. It is their class. But it is my practice, and I have to respect my body telling me that the show is over. And, as a teacher, they will undoubtedly experience days where students are on their back, not doing the awesome flow that they planned all night before. And that's part of the process.

I was very glad that I showed up for this class. The gratitude that was shown by the student-teachers as well as the staff was amazing, and it is nice to have a tiny piece in that process.

I've been pushing pretty hard lately.

The thought that sometimes comes to mind is "The yoga doesn't seem to be working right now." I recognize the absurdity of that statement. And it really only means that the internal world doesn't feel so easy lately. I think about lofty attributes like clarity, discernment, intelligence, and sometimes wonder if I am exercising any of these things, or if I am delusional. But I keep showing up on the mat, and trying to pay attention to what comes up.

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