Thursday, July 31, 2008

begin (almost) at the beginning

12 students today. I'm no longer on my 13'er roll. No straight-up newbies, but one woman who hadn't been in a while. I feel far more courageous these days with making definite corrections and adjustments, but I toe the line at being a touch overbearing. Often I want to demonstrate postures to give students an opportunity to see the form, hoping that if they see it will help them in their own practice. But just as often I stop myself, because frequently I am one of the youngest people in the room. As much as I want my students to experience the whole practice as deeply as possible, I certainly don't want to intimidate anyone. I know I should let go of assuming I know what's in people's heads, but I do know that some students look at me and think, "Of course you can do that!" I only wish they could have seen me when I started practicing.

Once upon a time I was a hater of yoga. For reals. My arrogant punk brain couldn't even fathom trying something that reeked so terribly of hippie bullshit, and my speed-fed, sleep-is-for-the-weak type A personality had no interest in anything that involved holding still for more than a second. I recall my little-kid self watching Lilias! Yoga and You on channel 13 and being a touch intrigued, but even then I couldn't sit still long enough to try it. After wasting my more formidable years on fast living, fast skating and faster cycling, I found my mind and soul housed in a completely wrecked body. Shattered ankles, a loose right kneecap, one royally damaged shoulder and a slight spinal curvature left me in constant pain. Not to mention the damage I'd done to my own heart. (I mean that literally, not in the "oh woe is me!" figurative blog sense.)

I remember moving to Boston to live with my (then) new boyfriend and work as a messenger. We found a completely lousy (literally) hovel of a studio apartment in Allston. I'd ride all day, then come home to pass out on our secondhand futon... only to wake up without the ability to move my legs. It took a few years (it sometimes takes that long for a messenger to get health insurance, if it ever happens at all) to learn that I had pinched nerves and several really misaligned vertebrae. By then I learned to live with the pain, and took it as a consequence of my job and my lifestyle. I met an amazing chiropractor who actually gave me a few free adjustments in hopes that he could help me (and I'd want to become his patient, of course). Finally I'd discovered that I didn't have to live with all that pain. He recommended I add yoga to my daily activities.

Yoga? Seriously? But I felt compelled to give his suggestion a shot, since he'd already helped me so much.

A friend invited me to join her at her yoga class... and it took every ounce of strength in my body to keep from running from the room. At the same time, my colossal ego insisted that I could do all those wacky postures better than anyone else in the room. Crazy, right?

I have a student who I wish could understand where I began with all of this. I see him struggle so terribly, in ways that are so unnecessary. No... they are necessary. I suffered and struggled just as he did, and managed to come out on the other side so peacefully and strong. As a teacher, though... oh how I wish I could help him bypass all the challenges I faced when I started. But then again, it wouldn't be his journey, would it? Sometimes it is all that drama and all that struggle that defines us. Perhaps my place as a teacher is to reassure my students that the journey really is the destination.

No comments: