Wednesday, September 24, 2008

rebel with a pause

I took a bit of a break from this blog. Life got a little hectic, and I just didn't feel any urge to write about my practice or my teaching. I had an opportunity cross my path, and that opportunity consumed me for a spell. Today, though, I felt a little of the old me back on track.

From this point on, not only will I ponder and dwell on my teaching and on my practice, but I will also ponder and dwell on my business. I am now the owner of a yoga studio. Fancy that.

I am the last person in the world who sets goals. Seriously. For the longest time I had exactly two goals: build my own bicycle frame (done, some years ago) and ride my bicycle cross-country (still on the back burner). I never added to that list, at least not in any significant way. Instead I opted to life life flying by the seat of my pants, going wherever the wind takes me.

When I got bored with a place, I upped and left. I followed leads, interesting stories and people, sometimes the weather. I also lived in a way that I could pack up and leave again at a moment's notice, should the moment arise. Long before I committed to a Buddhist practice I vowed to live simply in material terms. It just felt right.

Still, as I lived and moved and traveled, I kept paring my life down more and more. Paring it down by whittling away excesses of thought, old emotional baggage that doesn't fit or work, outdated or no-longer-useful ideas about what I should do and how I should act. Eventually this whittling gave me a basic framework for how I wanted to live. This framework helped guide my wayward travels.

It didn't give me goals, though. The framework meant "now I want a bikebuilding job" or "now I want to live near my friends again while I have a sweet bikebuilding job" or "now I want to move back to the west coast with the love of my life and take this job teaching people how to build bikes." I never planned for any of it.

I also never planned to become a yoga teacher. I just needed something else to do in this new hometown of mine. I had no one else but the fellow and our trusty mutt. I had to do something. Yoga was... is that something. When I wasn't teaching or riding or walking the dog or spending time with my partner-in-crime, I practiced. I practiced and meditated.

More whittling. Obviously. Suddenly life got simpler, again. And if life could simplify so beautifully for me, couldn't it for others? Couldn't I help?

I never planned to be a yoga teacher. I never planned to own a yoga studio. But here I am, with both those acts tucked under my belt. I never chose these acts as goals, but somehow this feels right.

I taught a 6am class this morning. I figured it couldn't hurt to try something new. I had a number of students sign up, expressing interest in the class, but only a fraction attended. I opted to practice with them, as they were all solid practitioners. I hadn't done an early morning class in ages; not since back in the vinyasa-before-work days.

Silent classes offer an entirely different experience. I can let go of attachment to the dialogue and hold the space with my own body. It's a different responsibility, a different honor. I have to present a strong practice without ignoring the other bodies in the room. It's almost more intense, like I don't want to let anyone down. The class appreciated it. Silent classes definitely shake things up for people, almost always in a positive way.

The practice gave me energy to teach my second class. 17 students. (Now, of course, I pay more attention to attendance!) Another strong group. Two students returned to their practices after long absences, but I couldn't tell. No one faltered or struggled unnecessarily. I even had two of my more assertive students present, and still the class felt smooth. Today I felt very aware of the healing aspect of yoga, and I hope I offered that to my students.

I definitely needed a day like today.

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