Teaching

Lax is talking about teachers today. Very interesting subject. Calls up all kinds of thoughts about authority and instruction and self-motivation, etc.

I like the fundamentalist approach of Annie Pace or Celeste Lau, but I also like the laid-back West Coast stylings of Anthony Carlisi and Volleyball Guy.

I guess I just like to know what the teacher’s parameters are. I can adjust to either/any style, which is zen style (Be open to the teacher in front of you).

When I taught The Cop, and when I counted the impromptu led at Saturday class a couple of weeks ago, I did my usual “Here I go; follow along to the best of your abilities” kind of teaching. Now that I think about it, that’s my management style, too. I like to model the behavior I expect, and I certainly am open to questions, but I prefer if people try a bit on their own and attempt to figure things out by themselves before they start peppering me with questions.

In fact, that’s a pet peeve of mine at work: it is a culture where you can barely get a sentence out before the questions start pouring in. If I’ve built a presentation on a concept, or written a business case, let me outline the big picture before you get all down and dirty with the details!

LOL! These may be artifacts of psychoanalysis and zen training: you learn that if you just are silent and pay attention for a while, things come clear in a way they won’t if you get too attached to using words to try to figure things out.

At led this weekend, there were three brand new people. One brand new to Ashtanga, and two pretty much brand new to yoga. The British Director set them up so they’d be to the left of established practitioners, and she also kept an eye on them. I had a gal to my left and to my right, and I figured my best bet was just to go about my business and let them do what they could. One of the gals across from us, though, a somewhat new Ashtangi, kept trying to explain things to the poor newbies. Which, of course, led to utter confusion for the most part. Her intention was good; her results, not so much.

I wondered if The British Director felt frustrated by this. She’s a pretty laid back person, so it probably bothered me more than it bothered her.

I still feel like people learn more by muddling unmolested through a whole class, rather than by trying to work into the details of individual poses. But that’s me. I’m pretty hands off — of both bodies and minds. I did wonder if the helpful gal thought this would make the practice seem more appealing to the new folks, that perhaps it would seem more inviting if they got lots of words and attention. Maybe she was on to something, too — I know there are people who like that sort of thing.

(I guess I like to exert my authority silently.)

I suspect most long-term Ashtanga practitioners are more introverted, leave-me-to-my-own-experience types. That’s been what I’ve seen, for the most part. Not many extraverts or social butterflies. But, again, my experience is certainly limited.

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5 Responses

  1. Hi Karen
    I guess there are differences in style. In our sutra reading group we discussed how some teacher give some instructions, others don’t. I think some verbal instruction, if to the point, is useful. Sometimes all that is needed is a few words. In the case you mention, though, it’s a newbie offering instruction to a person less experienced than her – so that seems out of place. You probably instructed more by your concentration on your flow.

    Three weeks ago I went to a level 2 flow class. The teacher was getting people into Ardha Matsendrasana, but forgot the proper posture. I was already in it and in the back of the room. Observing me, she realized she was giving the wrong instruction, mentioned it to the class and corrected herself. I think that is the kind of subtle influence longer term practitioners have.

    I think I may be writing this in SF, while you just finished typing away in Scottsdale. Happy Sunday!
    Cheers, Arturo

  2. You should give our current Supreme Court some pointers on listening skills – most of them love questions.

    And best to let the teachers do the teaching, I think.

  3. I like your ardha matsendrasana example, Arturo!

    And Tim, yes, I’d love to chat with the SC about listening. Listening is SO instructive! Much more fun than talking. šŸ™‚

  4. Introverted leave me alone type here. In fact, I’m almost to the point where I can barely tolerate a led class as the teachers talk talk talk incessantly. Some more than others. As I recall, VolleyBall Guy was one of the good ones.

  5. Oh yes, he is top notch in led class: very even count, all Sanskrit all the time. Except for the mischievously loooong Indian myths he likes to share during hanumanasana! šŸ˜‰

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