Monday, January 11, 2010

Leaving the Biz (for an afternoon...)

They say that once you start working in the Biz (Show Biz, that is), you will never just watch a play or movie again. Unless the production is mind-bogglingly great, you will always notice an unfastened hook, a weird lighting shadow, an inconsistent sound cue, or an awkward blocking choice. Since it's your job to reveal the script in costume, set design, action or words, you watch all other attempts to do the same. Usually with a critical eye. Which isn't to say you can't enjoy the production, but you are always aware of what's going on behind the scenes.

The same could be said of teaching yoga. At least for me. While I enjoy the practice and being released of any responsibility to other students, I'm almost always watching. How is the teacher handling adjustments? How is his/her form? What's the energy of the space? How are the students responding? Can I remember that sequence for my class? The fluctuations of the mind usually aren't too calm.

That is, unless the teacher is mind-bogglingly great.

I went back to a teacher I really, really like in Madison today (Nicky Plaut). I had taken a few of her classes almost five years ago, but have been very much out of the habit of going to a regular yoga class. One resolution for this year was to get back into some one else's studio and revisit student-hood. How nice to be in the hands of a teacher with decades of experience and a quiet, forceful presence. What a good reminder that Virabhadrasana I and Bujangasana and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana can be very, very difficult poses--no need for bells and whistles and show-offy arm balances. My legs are killing me!

for an hour and half I found myself in the place of a true student--following directions, being adjusted, depending on my breath to get me through a pose, and being grateful to some one with more experience for my practice. What a nice feeling to be back out of the Biz for awhile...


Jenn said...

I totally agree. After I started teaching aerobics a little over 10 years ago (yikes) I went to visit a college girl friend for a weekend and she took me to her favorite class at your local Y. It was horrible! The whole class all I could think about was how the gal was not using the 32 count music correctly, how awkward her combinations were, etc. Attending someone elses matter the format...has never been the same. No matter what type of class it is, especially if it's at the studio where I do a majority of my teaching, I have a really hard time shutting off my teacher brain.

That being said, those times when I have got away from my home studio for a workshop or just a class...and have simply been caught up in in being nothing more than a student...glorious!

YogaGal in the NW said...

Oh yes! I take a class from my very experienced teacher (Simon Menasche) 2 - 3 times a week just to give myself over to yoga on a regular basis. If I rely too heavily on my own teaching or practice I feel wobbly and out of sorts. I absolutely know what you mean about critically observing and not always feeling a class. A great teacher washes that away and guides you deeper into yourself. Bliss!

Great post as usual!

Jen said...

Sounds like a great experience. It's so hard to turn off "teacher brain." I'll definitely try to get to one of Nicky's classes next time I'm in Madison. Thanks for the recommendation.

La Gitane said...

3 cheers for good teachers! Living in an isolated community I don't have access to teachers, but I try to commit to attending a workshop or retreat at least once a year.

I think that to be a (good) teacher, you must also be a student at heart. If we are convinced we have nothing more to learn, then we will only teach from the ego.

Lovely post! :)

Claudia said...

Hmmm, what a nice experience!

Heather said...

Yes! I need to do this too. I am a yoga teacher, living in a small town, with very few local teachers around me. I try to visit the local metro-area for classes now and again, but not often enough. Thank you for this ~ now on my To Do List for the month!