Sunday, June 06, 2010

Simpler Times

In last week's comments I said that one of the things that I like about my new exercise "regimen" is that it frees my yoga practice up to be more-than-exercise. But I've been wasn't that long ago (seven years ago, in my pre-teaching days) that it was just a part of the routine, included to help soften the edges of high-stress workdays and stretch out a tense body.

Sometimes I miss those simpler times, when awareness of the texts or history or different schools of yoga didn't seem to matter that much. Every Thursday evening, I put on my stretchies, gathered up my mat and water bottle and headed off to class for 1 1/2 hours of calming and strengthening. It was a temporary escape from my Washington DC life to put myself in the hands of a strong, experienced teacher, where all I had to do was follow directions and keep my mind clear.

I manage to take a class here and there (it's not easy being one of the few teachers in town), but never with that beginner's mind. I'm always collecting ideas for my own classes or sneaking peaks at adjustments or memorizing clever sequences--I know, I know, mind my own business--but, as they say, once a teacher, always a teacher. And, while I cherish my level of understanding, sometimes I wish it could just be easy again.

I guess that's the trade-off when you decide to pursue a beloved hobby as a profession. Your relationship to the activity changes and it can never be "just" something you do in your free time. You know too much.

Maybe that's what is so nice about the biking and running and swimming. It's "just" exercise. Of course I've looked at various training sites and read about strategies to improve, but it's still just something I slip into the schedule for an hour or so five times a week. No great thoughts, no strong emotion, just some sweat and work.

That would be a good summer goal--to make yoga easy again. Just do the asana and leave the rest for the experts (or for when I'm teaching). Challenging. Appealing. Possible? We'll see...


Kelly Connor said...

Oh yes, indeed! I can completely relate. In recent months, I have taken to going to a class a week with a teacher I do not know from my life as a teacher. Somehow, being anonymous has allowed me to step back into studentship in a truly comforting way. (I realize that not all teachers have the *luxury* of being but one in a sea of a community's yoga teachers, but in this case, I'm savoring that!)
All goodness, Kelly

La Gitane said...

Wow, I totally resonate with this at the moment, when my practice is feeling like work! What I think I need is to reduce my actual work - so I don't have to squeeze my practice in as a chore...

Hey, whatever works, right?! :)

Next week I'm heading to the next island to soak up some Yoga classes there, first time as a student for nearly 1 year! And you can bet that I will be taking notes... but I will also try to 'lose' myself in it a bit. :) thanks for the reminder!

PS linked to this post yesterday

Eco Yogini said...

i think it's completely possible.

reconnect with 'yoga'. I support you.

Anonymous said...

After teaching 10 years, I am real picky about who I practice with, and am so grateful to those teachers who rock my world. In SF, there are so many great teachers. I'm in Malaysia now, and it's a home practice - and I practice when I teach because when your students speak Chinese, they have to see what you're doing!

Sara said...

I have the same trouble - can't stop thinking and planning when I am in another class. (Did I mention judging too?) I annoy myself. Oh well. Anyway, I take another class too. Tang Soo Do - a type of martial art. I appreciate the class because I am not the expert, I am not in charge and I don't have to think. Just like yoga used to be. I still love yoga. More than Tang Soo Do. But I love the ease of not being in charge when I'm at Tang Soo Do. Thanks for the post.

YogaGal in the NW said...

Oh yes. I couldn't agree more. Seeking that elusive "beginner's brain" is such a challenge when you are a dedicated teacher who wants to give so much to your students.

The only time I can really do it anymore is when I focus on the sensations of the yoga in my body as I'm practicing. The touch of my palm on the earth or the breath undulating in my belly. For those precious moments, I am able to retreat back to novice and let it wash over me. Such joy. Thanks for posting about this, I'm glad I'm not alone.