i had a student in one of my classes the other day say immediately after namaste: “was that really power because it felt more like vinyasa.” ouch. first of all, does this person even know what “namaste” means?!?! i’m not by any means a expert, but i understand it as the divinity in me bows to the dinivity in you…the truest part of myself acknowledges and respects the truest part of yourself …you better check yourself before you wreck yourself!
nuff said (photo courtesy of cafepress.com)
i tried to not let that comment kill my confidence, but it’s hard to not take things like that to heart, especially when what i bring to the mat as a teacher comes from a place of love, care, and sincerity. … plus i’d like to think i kick ass in class!
going through all of the learning curves of teaching; figuring what works and what doesn’t, i realize that i’m bound to teach some not-so-kick-ass classes in the process. it’s part of the journey. plus, if i never taught the not-so-kick-ass classes, how will i know when i do? i can’t be amazing at teaching without growing pains, experiencing moments of frustration and failure, or times of self-doubt. all those times make all of the blood, sweat, and tears worthwhile when i finally experience a wow moment and can say to myself: YES! this is exactly why i love doing what i do!
anyway, in this particular instant – i wasn’t having one of those wow moments. i took a deep yogi breath to prepare myself and gave that person my spiel about what my personal opinion is regarding the difference between vinyasa and power.
[exhale]. let it go.
conditional awareness (photo courtesy of samcrumb.blogspot.com)
in my opinion, regardless of the “rigorousness” of a class (which is subjective to begin with), what you bring to your practice equals what you take away from it. plain and simple. regardless if you’re doing 15-20 chaturangas or ONE, it’s not in how many or even how advanced your poses are. a strong yoga practice embodies quality, awareness, mental peace, breath, and integrity that builds energy, and strength. i’ve found my practice to be just as challenging in a class that had a simple sequence (without any fancy asanas) as when i’m in a rigorous class; each are challenging in their own ways.
in the past when i’ve gotten off my mat dissatisfied with my practice, i look within myself: was i really 100% aware and dedicated to my practice or was my mind somewhere else? was i open to exploring another level of my practice and could i have gone deeper? was i really listening to the teacher and applying his/her instruction in my own body? was i more worried about what i looked like compared to others in the class? did i make it “easy” on myself because i’m not feeling 100% today or was i just being lazy? it’s hard to be honest with myself sometimes.
what i love about yoga is that it brings to the surface all of things that i repress deep down inside. it brings up fears and insecurities that i can either face and overcome or cower away from. it’s challenging and it takes time, but that’s the beauty of yoga and how a yoga practice not only transforms the physical self, but also the emotional and spiritual self as well. your yoga practice is what you make of it. i can take it to whatever level i want to or not – depending on how i feel.. but i know that whatever i bring to the mat is 100% of what i can give at that moment.
so, needless to say, i am grateful to that student who spoke up in class. thank you. without your comment, i wouldn’t be writing this post or contemplating this in my teaching or my own practice. in your honor, i’ll still add a couple more wow-asanas to my classes to amp it up!
“Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success.” -Hatha Yoga Pradipika
photo courtesy of zenbeing.blogspot.com