Today I taught a very small class. Just three of my regulars. (It has been below zero here for a couple days and not everyone is silly enough to leave the house for things like yoga class.)
I assumed our transformation work would go quickly, working with partners to remove/reduce rotation in the back leg in Side Warrior (Virabadrasana B for those of you who do Sanskrit). I should know by now that what I think will be simple usually isn't, and what I think will be hard goes easily.
So here we are looking at legs, and I'm aware that one of the women is not getting what we're supposed to be looking at. It isn't important to me that she see it --- it is the first time I've ever pointed this rotation work out --- but she clearly is bothered. When her turn comes, her emotions are at the surface from frustration. And she is already holding tight to every instruction I have ever given in this pose. I try to tell her this isn't intended to change any of that, just to refine it. No good. By the time we have done "helping" her in the pose, she is so disconnected from her body and quite upset.
Once, years ago, I had the same response to too many instructions and tweaking. So many that I ended up cranky and disconnected. I looked at my student and very quickly put her through the same transformation work she had just done, only with minimal instruction and staying in the pose for a very short time. She stood up, calm, content, one with her body.
Life lessons learned today:
For the very cerebral, too much time and too much instruction only puts you further into your head.
As a teacher, know your students. Do not feed their imbalances.
Which leads me to this: All those ways you approach life may have served you well, but when they get in the way, can you change your approach? If you keep pushing through challenges, are there times when maybe you should just ease up? Can you persevere if it is your natural inclination to walk away from difficulty? Do you know yourself well enough to know your patterns of approaching life's challenges?
Watching how you approach a yoga pose can teach you a lot about your habits and patterns of mind. Taking yoga off the mat can happen while you're on the mat.
I have this friend who inspires me. I do not want to follow in her footsteps. While I enjoy hooping, it is not my joy. I do not necessarily need to become a public speaker like her, though I am good at that. What she inspires me to do is to find my joy.
Joy. That has been a meager commodity in recent years. My family was struggling financially. My husband was struggling professionally. And I was struggling to land in a new city and create a new life that I was determined would look much like the one I left behind in Michigan.
So here I am, nearly two years after my move, and I am finding my way to joy again. My days look nothing and everything like they used to. I get up every morning and walk a dog in temperatures where no sane person should venture. I drive children to early morning practices, evening games, concerts and competitions. I have learned how to make a mean latte at the coffee shop where I still work a shift or two a week. I haven't managed to felt anything in over 18 months. I get on the mat several days a week to practice and learn from my body. I still don't have the yoga teaching schedule I want. But I do have new perspective.
One day last year, I sat down with Theresa Rose (yes, the one in the video above), and said quite clearly that I knew my old methods for re-creating my previous life weren't working. I couldn't figure out how to get over the brick wall in my way and and did she have any ideas. Now, Theresa has taken my classes and worked with me privately to learn to free up her body to move more fully with her hoop. She knows what I do and how good I am at it. Through her eyes, I was able to see what exactly it is that I am passionate about. And she helped me see new ways to bring that passion forth.
I have let go of assumptions about what I do and where it will best be enjoyed. I have reached out in ways I never had imagined and find myself creating a future that includes teaching weekend workshops in neighboring states; mentoring teachers interested in Eischens Yoga; renting spaces to create my own floating studio, Eischens Yoga MN; bringing a practice to address back pain to corporations. And you know what? I am actually doing all those things. They are not some distant future. They are now.
At a recent photo shoot, I realized that I feel most joyous in yoga not while doing certain poses, but while helping others experience something extraordinary in their own bodies. I asked the photographer to shoot me while I worked on other people, while I talked and explained and gave physical resistance to someone in a pose. Those photos were the most beautiful and joyous of the bunch.
Joy. Yep, I'm finding it again. And with it comes freedom and time and knowing I have enough, knowing I am enough. And guess who is planning on felting again this Spring?
Oh, Joyous Movement.
Deep, and not so deep, thoughts on yoga, art, parenting, dogs. You know, life.