This week was my first full week back teaching yoga and it was more of a party than work. I was so happy to see my coworkers and students that I spent more time socializing and catching up than actual teaching but I still managed to learn from my students as I do every time I am at the studio.
One of the men I teach told me about a book he is reading which focuses on the mediation aspect of yoga and why it is so important to try to still the mind during your practice. I have noticed his postures have gotten a lot stronger, he can hold them longer and do more in class. He is a fit guy so there is no physical reason but because he has started to train his mind as well as his body he has started to overcome his challenges in class... this is a powerful way to make changes in your yoga practice.
I took class earlier this week and the teacher singled out a big strong man, asking if he was a rugby player. The man said no and the teacher told him it's good that he is doing yoga because he is already so strong that he can use that strength to gain flexibility. He mentioned that people who are more flexible have a harder time building strength in yoga class and he is so right.
As a more flexible person I love the floor series because the postures are short so you can challenge your depth and before you know it the teacher says CHANGE. The standing series kills me, I can push to my most flexible point but then there is still a bunch of time left in the pose and I have to stand there... and hold it... and grit my teeth... and breathe. I grind my jaw so hard in some postures that it has made a gouge on the left side of my teeth so I really have to learn how to relax my jaw. The best way I have found is to keep a slight smile, as Bikram says - A Happy Smiling Face.
It is agony to hold the postures and feel the burn in my muscles, it seems to go on forever before the teacher indicates it is over. Just like my student, I have to work on controlling my mind as well as my body and acknowledge those tought thoughts or feelings that come up during class but ultimately let them pass through me. My goal would be to have no positive or negative reaction to how I perform in each posture but simply dwell in a feeling of peace for the entire class.
And finally, one of the staff at a studio I teach has just returned from teacher training. I have heard great things about his class and he is an intellegent person with a strong practice so I know he will be a wonderful teacher. He came to the studio early with hopes of going shopping nearby but the mall was closed so he waiting while I taught my classes and he told me he was listening to hear how I time my postures. Afterwards we sat down and he had so many insightful questions for me and I was touched that he wanted my advice, he made me feel like I am a good teacher too. I was so happy to see his passion for teaching and for the yoga and I remember figuring it all out when I started and would not trade that process to jump ahead to where I am today, it is fun and challenging and frustrating and enables you to grow so much.
I left the week feeling lucky to be exposed to all these people who are on their own personal yoga journey, we are all simultaneously experiencing different things but can inspire and influence each other... we are all connected.