I’m a great believer in celebrating small everyday milestones and delights, as well as acknowledging the embarrassing and unexpectedly awkard moments along the way. Usually, I find unexpected events contain blessings I wasn’t smart enough to ask for for myself, but sometimes that has to be unearthed from feelings of being out of control, not measuring up or having let someone down – perhaps the three biggest causes of embarrassment I can think of right now. Sometimes it’s so tempting to turn away and hope either no one else noticed or that they noticed but didn’t realize it was your responsibility. Of course, this temptation is so foolish, in the deepest sense of that word, because the information is locked in your soul, wearing away at your sense of self, building a false one and keeping you from your best.
So, the celebration? I had my biggest class ever last night! 12 people! I know, it doesn’t sound like Carnegie hall, but it’s so different from having four or five people. I’m excited by but not yet comfortable with so many students, being used to giving very individualized attention, expanding my awareness to include so much movment, so many moments, so many levels was a great challenge.
After class I realized my yoga pants have a hole in the butt.
What a comedown.
Maybe no one else saw?
But that was just one of those “C’est la vie!” moments – what can you do? Class is over & no one keeled over as a result of seeing my butt. Well, there was that one woman falling in Trikonasana…? just kidding 🙂
Adjustments are so intimate, the hands on ones especially. There is something of a May-December romance about them… “Here, try putting pressure just there… how does that feel?” There’s a sense of trust and vulnerability on both parts. Obviously the student is trusting the teacher to know what they’re doing and have caring intentions. The teacher, too, has to have watched the student enough to know how much they are attuned to their own body, to know how deeply their connection to their own embodiment reaches, and not to work more deeply than the student is prepared to respond.
I wanted to crawl under my mat Tuesday evening when I assisted a student in falling awkardly from a headstand attempt. Well, to say I assisted the fall is to assume too much control. We were both surprised by the fall, and while I had the presence of mind to go with and settle her in balasana after she was down (unhurt, thank goodness!), she was shaken and I was mortified. What kind of teacher am I that she would fall while I was assisting her!
Well, of course, that would be the human kind. How many times did I fall when “assisting” myself into headstand? How many times have I fallen since supposedly mastering it, because I was either unattentive or trying something new? (my latest experiment is pressing up into handstand from it…. that’ll be a while 🙂
Now, I did learn that there’s a difference between asking someone to press their leg down into your hand and actually specifying that they should keep it straight while doing so, which I will do in the future. Moreso, I learned a little bit of what to look for in someone who is really ready to go upside down. Before we did it she told me she never had before. After, she told me the experience frightened her. It challenged me deeply to be steady and let her own this information about herself and integrate it in her own time. On my own part, I’m integrating what I’m learning about observing students’ readiness and emotions.
My own teacher has recently had t-shirts printed with her favorite translation of Sutra 1.2 (yogah citta vrttti nirodha): “Don’t believe everything you think.” These awkward falling times are such a rich ground in which to plant this wisdom: what was I thinking during that disturbing experience? is it something I believe? is it accurate? does believing it draw me closer to the person I want to become? Does realizing I believe it make me feel the same way as finding out too late I have a hole in my pants?