...I didn’t collapse in exhaustion or get even get a little bored. When I first discovered that I had booked myself into 32 days of straight teaching, taking on a substituted class as well as a new class of Yin Yoga, I did stare at my calendar in disbelief. That a person who teaches “doing less...” could actually be “doing MORE!” Taking time to pause and think about this, laying back on the comfort of my warmed BioMat, I began to settle into the moment, and the thought came to me... “what if this is a chance to really discover what teaching yoga is all about?” And so, I changed my perception. I began to see this as a journey into applying the principles of “doing less” into a situation that could be looked upon as much much more.
True, I was giving up my social life... times where weekends and evenings tend to be where most day-to-day people have dinners and parties or concerts. I was giving up the spontaneity of saying yes to movie invites on a whim. Letting go of getting to bed early, as most of the classes ended at 10pm and then there was travel time to get home and then wind-down time on top of that. Thankfully I didn’t have much in the way of early morning events to have me up at the break of dawn.
And so I began. One day at a time, one class at a time, one pose at a time... learning and opening up to new ideas along the way...
Taking time to get to the class and greet students before hand is SO awesome! There is a shift in ones’ attitude similarly to when welcoming guests in for a dinner party, when you get to connect with people and set the tone of an event. I felt more connected to each person and them to me. I wasn’t rushing to get things settled in the midst of a busy and constant schedule. I set the pace and the shape of the container evolved in ways I hadn’t anticipated... this maintained my interest from class to class and I never felt bored. I actually learned more about my students and got to invite casual conversation that then shifted the way the class was unfolded.
I took extra time in poses. Yes, teaching Yin and Restorative yoga already denotes that there is added time in the length of each pose... but I went further. I added time in the set-up of each pose and the transition of each pose. This lead to shaping the class into something akin to one continuous s-l-o-w movement rather than broken movements. This also created a new sense of space in time... less poses but more integrated poses that almost felt like time expanded.
The way I observed became more attuned to each person rather than just scanning the whole group. I was able to see past the space of ego in my own mind and really attend to each individual’s needs ... part of the “eyes in the back of the head” scenario. I could almost anticipate where props might be needed or suggestions put forth to augment for deeper relaxation. A widening of insight into what might be needed.
My biggest learning... that we humans are social beings, and there is something about evenings and weekends that lends itself to the mass social consciousness of gathering together as a group to have fun and celebrate was happening without me. I was feeling acutely aware that I was more often saying, “I’m sorry I can’t, I’m teaching that night” than I was, “I’d love to... see you then”. Making me feel rather sad and separated from my “kula”, my group of friends and their special times. There is an energy when people congregate at common times that is very special... and I felt that I was missing out. Yes, I had amazing groups of people I was teaching in the evenings... but the feelings of personal social separation ran deep. This hit far into the reaches of what it means to be belonging to a fellowship of friends and participating ...truly participating. Feeling like I was missing out.
This journey is at an end for now and I return to my regular schedule which still includes six evenings a week of teaching. But through this Olympiad of constantly being out of the house in the evenings and unavailable to my kula, this experience has touched me deeply in many beautiful ways. Teaching the teacher... I know now that I will always and forever be a student. Constantly adapting and honing my life and shaping and reshaping the way I live it.
...in profound gratitude for supportive friends, slow yoga, daily meditation, green juice, Kombucha and fresh home-made gluten-free bread...with honey and cinnamon sprinkled on top.
- photo of our playful Ganesha at the YYoga - Terra Nova studio in Richmond BC