Thursday, May 10, 2007

Opening Comments...

I’m a little side-tracked with my next Yoga Mentor article right now (“Silence as a Teaching Tool”), but I wanted to post a few of my observations from the Yoga Journal conference that I went to last weekend in Lake Geneva, WI.

I attended a special teachers’ intensive that was three days of three-hr.s sessions with such yoga stars as Gary Kraftsow, Ana Forrest, Aadil Palkhivala, David Swenson and Rodney Yee. We were about 50 teachers, crammed mat-to-mat in a generic conference room, but the energy was good, the intentions were genuine and I think everyone learned a lot. I got the sense that we all were a bit startled by the contradictions between the various experienced teachers—either sniping about other styles or approaches or how to set up and adjust poses, but that stuff, in itself, was educational. I have a lot more to say about that.

There were a variety of free events, including a number of panel discussions. I attended a couple, one on “Why do We Teach Yoga” and “Is Yoga a Religion.” Again, a lot of food for thought and a lot of, uh, debate. What’s with these advanced teachers and their need to be right? Maybe they were picked especially for the panels, because it was known that they would make challenging comments and mix it up a bit. It was a bit disconcerting, but it was good to hear a variety of opinions and to think about the questions that they inspired.

I also have some thoughts about my own experience with the sessions and the sequences--from the perspective of a pregnant woman. Yeah, that’s right, I’m about 6 months along and due at the end of August. I’ve been recycling a lot of my old pose-pictures, but I think it's time to bring this element into the blog; some of you out there may be expecting, too, or dealing with moms-to-be.

Being a “special population” at the conference gave me a lot of perspective on how teachers deal with unexpected “problem” students. Some were great and kept me busy, even if I can’t do a full-blown paschimottanasa (seated forward bend) any more; others just looked at me and shrugged as if to say, “your condition is not my problem.” Luckily, I know a variety of modifications I can do for most poses…but what if I was a beginning student and figured Navasana (Boat Pose) might be a good way to build strength (not for some one who’s expecting, too much contracting in already stretched-to-the-limits abdominals)?

So, this is something of a preview for the next few weeks. I have a lot of things I’m mulling right now, and I think writing about them will help me clarify what I think. Plus, I’m interested to see how the rest of you respond to this information. Yoga is at a very interesting place right now, in our culture. As more people start to take classes and realize the benefits and as more study is done by scientists to unlock how these benefits manifest themselves, I think the discipline and how it is taught is going to change. I think it’s fascinating to be in on the discussion and I hope you do too.

Mas tarde…


Nadine Fawell said...

Hi Brenda!
Congratulations on your pregnancy - sooo exciting! I also find it interesting how everyone has 'their' way to do things. For me, the neti neti (neither this nor that)approach works best - find alignment organically with the breath and by developing your knowledge of your particular body (like me and my bone obsession!)
Looking forward to hearing your full thoughts and reading your YJ article.

Total Health Yoga - Kris said...

Congrats on the pregnancy!
Somehow the different opinions from the "expert" Yogis has always given me a sense of comfort. The first time I was exposed to these differences, I was scared. My background was math and engineering--there must be a "right" answer. What I learned, was that if there was a "right" answer, then no one knew it.
Over time, I came to find freedom in these differences and realized that what feels "right" and good for me is what's right for me--not necessarily for someone else.
On different days, different moods, different times in my cycle, etc, the "right" answer changes.
This keeps me on my toes and my awareness must be present to know what's right for now.
As a teacher, it helps to keep me humble and know that I can never feel exactly what someone else feels. Our experiences are unique, and in seeing all of these different views from "experts", I know that each person is truly their own best teacher.
In summary, listen, learn, take what works for this moment, and store the rest. It just might be what's "right" on another day.
Thanks for sharing your conference experience. Looking forward to reading more :-)

yogaglamgirl said...

Hello Brenda, so neat...I just found you through Kris and total health yoga...I couldn't agree with you more on your sentence: "What's with these advanced teachers and their need to be right?"...I am both a student and teacher of Iyengar yoga. I have been to several workshops with teachers and have experienced that very thought myself. Congratulations on your coming baby!