Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 7: Free your mind, and your asana will follow

“A mind is like a parachute.
It doesn't work if it is not open.” 
― Frank Zappa
My Uncle Ezio introduced me to Frank Zappa when I was 15.
I'm still learning things from FZ.

Sunday, March 4, 2012
Hatha Flow
Instructor: Michelle W.
10:30 a.m. – 12 noon

Had a great practice today. I felt rejuvenated after my oil bath yesterday and taking it easy — although I couldn't help myself from working on hip openers while watching the UFC fights in bed —  and my body felt fresh and ready for practice this morning. Starting at 10:30 felt like a luxury, which is nice on a Sunday. Our instructor this morning was Michelle, who does a fantastic job of breaking down poses to their foundations and giving clear instruction on alignment, which I found very helpful and timely. I know my wonky knee appreciated it. I didn't hear a peep from it all class, which was amazing. She has a way of explaining things that really clicked for me — especially how she showed us to use your hands to open your chest and pull your shoulder blades together to get a sense of what the whole "lifted heart/shoulders back" thing feels like. I thought I had it pretty good before, but after today I think I've really got it.


Michelle mentioned an interview she heard with blind poet John Mikhail Asfour this morning where he talked about his "disability" as a gift (you can listen to the interview here), which reminded me of something I was discussing with Deb the other day (my wife, not my teacher, although I learn a lot from both). It was about how I've started to see my own injuries and physical challenges in a new, more positive light, and how they are actually preparing me to be a better teacher down the road. For starters, they are forcing me to slow down my practice and concentrate on the basics, looking at every element of the pose and correcting old habits or learning new things about the proper alignment that no one has showed me before I was forced to ask.

Furthermore, having to work through these limitations myself will hopefully teach me to practice patience and compassion with my students who may have their own physical challenges, whether due to age, injury or otherwise. I'll also perhaps be even more conscious of making sure they understand the proper alignment and form and any modifications available, so that they can work within their limitations yet still reap the benefits of the pose, safely. Lastly, I will strive to teach with humility and transparency, so as to provide encouragement to students who may be struggling with injuries and who might think "I can't do this! I'll never do this because of my hips, shoulder, knees etc.". I want to show them that you can work through anything and still enjoy the benefits of yoga.

What it all comes down to is this:
I want to show my students all of the amazing, inspiring, practical, enlightening things that my most valued teachers have shown me.

But first, I have to learn those lessons myself.



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