09 July, 2013

Find your teacher

Today was Gentle Yoga with Elizabeth McElveen.

Elizabeth walked into class quietly, and rotated her mat so that it was aligned parallel to ours, instead of the usual orientation of perpendicular at the front of the room. She sat down, facing us, and closed her eyes. And that was the indication that class had started. So we sat. Several minutes passed, and she then asked us to find our way to Downward-Facing Dog. From there, we went to Rag Doll, and rolled up to standing in Mountain Pose, as most classes begin. But it was different today because there was this silence at the start of class, where there are typically many words. The words, instead, came here in Mountain Pose. We stood at "yoga attention" as Elizabeth spoke about "finding our teacher." Troy Lucero is Elizabeth's teacher, and it took her many years to find a person she could call her teacher. And she offered us this: Once you have found your teacher, the one who speaks to you in a unique way that you understand, stick with that teacher. The way to go deeper is to find your teacher and then go deep with them. To go to so many different teachers, we will hear many different instructions, some of which may be conflicting, because each teacher and, moreover, each school of yoga, has its own way of doing the poses. It's not that one is right and one is wrong (though there are cases of this), but more importantly, it is hard to move forward if we are moving in many different directions.

It's interesting. That doesn't entirely resonate for me, though I do understand it. I have found, as I said before, that the inner voices that guide me end up being a collage of the "greatest hits" of many of my most treasured teachers. I do not disagree that going most deeply into the purity of a practice might involve a single guru, and a consistent trajectory. But right now, one of the joys of practice for me is having the opportunity to hear these different voices. Maybe it's the difference between being 1-2 years into my practice, versus being 10 years in?

Today, we spent time focusing on the subtleties of the "simplest" poses and sequences. Keeping the legs very straight during the entire Sun A sequence. The change to bending the knees deeply and arching the back in the Sun B series. Back to the straight legs again for Triangle and Half Moon. And then a series of very deep stretches on the floor. The practice, though gentle from the standpoint of heat and speed, is very deep and very intense.

At the end of class, we again broke the standard protocol. Elizabeth had all of us move to a wall, and position ourselves with legs up the wall. We spent a fairly lengthy time resting in the pose. Then we turned around so we were sitting with our backs against the wall, and she offered the closing remarks of class. That had been our Savasana. It was not called out as such, but it was fairly evident that is what it was. It was a very intriguing class today of slight off-centeredness.

Interesting to me (coming back to the teacher topic again) is the fact that I wouldn't want to give up the variety of the different teachers, even at the expense of going deeper. I have seen this pattern play itself out in so many different venues in my life. Regarding career, relationships, hobbies. I am always wanting to broaden my experiences. I am rarely wanting to lock in, narrowing the possibilities. I don't know what to do with that. Is it an area of opportunity for me to potentially recognize that as a flaw that limits me? Or is it a characteristic of "Who I Am" that is not to be discarded, but understood and embraced?

Presumably, all things shall become clear in due time.

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