Friday, October 25, 2013

Too busy for practice....NEVER!

In the latest edition of the Yoga Rahasya, there is an article titled, "Teaching to 'strengthen the nerves' of the students" written by Guruji.  The entire article is only a couple pages, but it spoke directly to me as a teacher.  Here is the first paragraph:
"The seat of reverence is the heart.  It will bloom only when the students stick to yoga. Though it depends upon the teachers to ignite and keep the flame of yoga burning, it depends on the students too.  The teachers must be models with their regular practices and work in each asana for qualitative presentation. At the same time they should know about sequencing asana-s for congenial feelings as well as the ways of doing them to experience different sensations and feeling."

As of lately, or since I returned from India, I have been going, going, going, going.  Not a whole lot of balance in my daily life and working life.  When I first returned I was determined to find a balance, not to work too much, to practice more, to read and rest more. Of course that has slowly dwindled to an hour of practice a day and a little reading at night before I conk out.  I could look at it in a negative way, complain of how tired I am, talk of how busy I am,  or even just be pissed that it is not going exactly as planned. 

Today I realized that I am doing all of this "work" because I love this work.  I love teaching, I love managing the studio, and I love being on the IMIYA board.  These are the things that I get to do for work, how lucky am I?  In my former chef life, I was on my feet 8-10 hours a day and I loved that too. Looking back on all the professions I have had I am pretty lucky to have mostly done things I love. Not everyone can say they get to make money doing something they love, I get to be one of those people and I am very grateful for it.

In the Rahasya,  Guruji talks about strengthening the nerves of the students, but I think that teaching also strengthens the nerves of the teacher. I have to practice daily and  keep up with my studies so that I am constantly learning new things to teach them.  If I do not continue learning, what will I have left to offer?  Everyday when I think to myself I am too busy or too tired to practice, I remember all the students that come to class even when they too are tired or are having difficulties in their own lives.  That is what gives me the inspiration to keep going.  To keep assessing. This is what helps to "keep the flame of yoga burning" in my life.

Gratitude to the Iyengar Family and all students for helping me stay inspired and energized so I can share my abundant love of this yoga!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

India came to me this time.

This past weekend, IYCD played host to Swati Chanchani. Swati is from Northern India and has been studying directly with the Iyengar Family for more than 30 years.  She began the weekend workshop on Friday night with calling all of us around in a semi-circle to do the invocation.  What a beautiful way to start.  We typically sit in very straight rows, all on our own little islands of sticky mats.  To begin this way brings an immediate feeling of community to the group.  The way the Indians chant is so natural.  Just in the tone you can feel and hear their devotion to god, to the guru, and to the group they are about to teach.

Friday night was standing poses using chairs for the hands, not going too deep.  We used rolled sticky mats and blankets under our front foot to demonstrate the sensation of moving the top of the thigh back and noticing how that creates a freedom in the buttocks. She mentioned more than once that yoga is about devotion not acrobatics,  it is about discipline and learning to change the way you have always done things, it is NOT about struggle.  She asked a few times to the group, "Why must you struggle?"  I have been asking myself this same question all week.

Saturday was incredible. Swati has a special gift to know when we have had enough or are not getting it.  When we were all in Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana, she saw that our chairs were not big enough and said come out let's do this another way.  She led us into a supported backbend with bolsters and blankets instead.  While in this backbend, that felt very luxurious to me, I noticed so many sensations not only in my back, my chest, but more especially my mind.  I felt clearer, energized but not in an urgent sort of way.  I think spending so much time in the pose gives you an opportunity to do that "micro surgery" that the Iyengar family is always talking about.

Swati went on adjusting people, teaching us more subtle things about our spines, our legs, our minds.  At one point she says to someone, "Was that an accident or did you mean to make that adjustment?" The student replied, "It was an accident, I just did it because it felt good."  Swati says to the class, "IF it comes accidentally, it is not yoga. Yoga has to be cultivated over time, then is comes mindfully."  I immediately had to run out of the room to write this down.  Sometimes the most simple suggestions are the most profound to me.  I will agree with Swati that Yoga has to be cultivated. I have been doing some form of yoga since I was 18 years old when I got my first yoga video that had Ganga White on it. Whenever I did this video I always felt different.  Then I moved on to yoga with a friend at a community college. We did the stare into a candle thing, do a few asanas and then sit very still. At the time I do not think I knew what I was doing!  It does not really matter where you start, it is still a door opening.  Over time,  the yoga will penetrate deeper into your body, then to your mind, and deeper still to the seat of your soul.