Conflicted

“When will you start writing about the workshop?” The Cop asked within about an hour of my return home.

Why do I find that question so worrisome? I wondered.

This morning, I am slowly unpacking and kind of puttering about aimlessly. I have a cranky right Achilles and sore lower quads — the former from heroic attempts to deepen pasasana, the latter from a little kapotasana exercise I learned.

Coming out of the workshop, I feel like I learned a lot, but in the simplest terms of the exchange relationship, I got my money’s worth because Matthew Sweeney taught me two exercises that will help me learn kapotasana on my own. That, plus an objective look at my personal practice, is what I went to the workshop to accomplish.

***

Okay, so I am still thinking about writing about what I learned.

One thing that was interesting was how often I got asked, “Do you teach?” during the workshop. Yup, pretty much continuously. Is teaching yoga a given, if one is a practitioner? Or is the question simply the yoga workshop equivalent of “Hot enough for ya?”

At first I just laughed at the question, because it is so clear that I have no business whatsoever teaching, and if anyone sees my practice or (horrors) experiences one of my adjustments, that ought to be pretty apparent. I felt pretty disconnected during the adjustment workshop sessions. I love to coach people, and am frequently a “mentor” at work. But physically adjusting people? Gah! UNQUALIFIED!

Then I started getting worried.

At the risk of setting off some kind of riot, I have to ask: is the teaching bar set too low?

I’m not trying to be incendiary — this is just what’s on my mind. Seems a fair question. I mean, if I am traveling to work with a teacher in hopes of getting some kind of perspective on my own practice, how in the world could I be expected to help other people with theirs? Let’s get real here: I am at the very beginning of an intermediate practice.

Offering useful information based on my own experience? UNQUALIFIED! (Interestingly, Matthew specifically asked people NOT to go into “teaching mode” with each other during the adjustment sessions. He just wanted us to look and try to learn by our eyes and our hands and simple “yes, that’s better/feels more stable/etc.,” kinds of feedback from the adjustee. This is very wise counsel.)

***

“Knows enough to be dangerous.” That’d have to be the tagline on my yoga teacher business card. The thing is, people would laugh and possibly think the tagline a sign of humbleness, but then they’d probably STILL let me teach them.

I don’t know, maybe I will re-think this and it won’t seem like such a big deal. For now, though, it all just makes me want to step back.

What can I tell you about the workshop that will actually be practical and useful?

***

I’m going to try out the exercises I learned for a while and see how it goes. If they are fruitful, I will detail them (or video them). With a repeat of the disclaimer above, of course.

Because seriously, you shouldn’t trust me to be your teacher.

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6 Responses

  1. I would love to hear about the kapotasana exercises. I still do not have my toes, after years of self practice. I don’t have a teacher near me, so I’m on my own. I always laugh when people are so disappointed with only having their toes, or not being able to grab their ankles in this pose. To get my toes in this lifetime would be beyond what I imagined. Ha ha! If people could only see what I started with.

    Yes–I hate the thought that if you are serious about yoga, you must teach. I am a teacher –a writing teacher, and I started out as a third grade teacher, and now am a college teacher. I don’t want to teach anything else. I’m happy to have yoga as something for myself. I worry that it’s selfish to feel that way at times, but most times I know it’s the perfect decision for me, and sometimes a dedicated practitioner can be as important of a teacher as the actual “teacher.”

    Can’t wait to hear more.

    Tara

  2. I enjoy workshops, but I must admit I am not keen when we are asked to do adjustments on each other, I dont mind being the guinea pig for the teacher, especially when they are explaining why the adjustment is done and what the teacher is trying to do for the student.

    Now that I am delving a lot more into backbends I hope you do write about the Kapotasana exercises, anything that could get me deeper has to be worth exploring

  3. I’m so jealous that you went to this workshop- it sounds like it was fantastic. I think it’s funny that you posed the question about the bar (possibly) being too low to teach yoga. Um… there are some really, seriously bad, definitely-going-to-hurt-you teachers here. There’s a big yoga studio in town that churns out the teachers. You can be a student one day (possibly even your very first day!) and then teach in about 6 months. There’s a woman I met when she stepped foot into her first led primary class about 2 years ago, and now? She’s teaching a mysore class. WTF? really.
    I can’t imagine trying to figure out Kapo on my own. Before a teacher got his hands on me, I was about 6 inches from my feet, head planted firmly on the ground. I’m impressed (Tara) that you’re so far!

  4. right there with you on the teacher front.

    the workshop sounds like it was a good choice for you. glad to hear it!

  5. There’s a part of me that doesn’t care at all about where the bar is set for other styles of yoga, and I suppose I could even feel okay about someone new (less than 5-10 years of cultivating their own personal Ashtanga practice) teaching a led primary, but teaching MYSORE? No way!!

  6. Hi Karen
    You are kind of a teacher, one who shares her experience here and inspires us as you respond to the challenges your body imposes on your practice.
    hugs
    Arturo

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