“Do you want to be a GOOOOOD teacher or just a popular teacher?”

she would say, repeatedly.  Ideally … both ?  But if a teacher was as detailed, in today’s social media crazy world, reality is that students walk out or rant nonsense on Yelp, no matter how much of an expert a teacher may be.  It’s true – as for so called “popularity”, in many cases, it’s sometimes just about the high-usage time-slots and the attitude of “just give them what they want” mindset that may prevail in the gyms and studios that wins over.  It is a practice not to fall into that ego-laced trap.

I hadn’t been to a yoga class lately so I walk into local gym with minimally trained yoga or less seasoned instructor (everyone has to start out somewhere and I may have been guilty as well) who has 30+ packed bodies in the studio room, shouting out scripted cues that may or may not make sense relative to that unique individual, nor truly … serve each student’s needs to optimize their health.  More than quarter of the class seemed to be barely keeping up and more than half, noticing poses are in need of adjustments but … there’s none offered  … Maybe with the endorphins rush, the students may feel like they got what they needed – a temporary fix and a high but … was that really yoga?   Just like for your child, you want better teacher/student ratio in that classroom, right? ; it’s really no different with a yoga class – unless of course it’s a practice not training and you know what you are doing for the most part; and there more for the “vibe” of a group class.

So it’s about the intention of every class.  Yes, that is good for your health – to be in a community to practice your yoga – to breath the same air; to feel each other’s aura, feel the vibrations … the energy – it’s about the ripples of human connection – it’s always about energy.  Maybe it’s enough for me as a teacher to just hold space of camaraderie and safety – after all, it’s about sustaining and supporting repeated practice in continuum that’s essential.

Did someone mention she was a bit … intense?

Here I am in Anjaneyasana (AHN-jah-nay-AHS-uh-nuh) – Cresent Lunge – prep – I love her guidance in the use of props – Iyengar influence throughout – but it’s vinyasa flow too just to heat up our body furnace:) So get your legs/hips to that place of strength and balance before you raise your arms, okay? Yes learning about my own body’s idiosyncrasies, learned that my arms are a little short relatively for the floor reach with natural ease  – I am not going to collapse my stance, I am getting the earth to meet me; not the other way around of straining to reach, thus, ruining my hips and back and chest – basically, the entire upper body alignment.

None of us are looking at the mirrors that surrounds us.  Rather, we are directed to see our reflections with our own proprioception.  It’s a training to avert our eyes away from the mirror to look inside – as we grew up checking ourselves in the mirror with the rhetorical – “do I look alright?”  “is anything wrong with me?” “am I presentable?” hahaha – it’s all about the exterior image. (And as Judith Lasater used to say, the teacher holds the mirror where we see ourselves reflected. Comfortable or not, she shares the truth.)

Tuck in the tailbone … not It’s about the “lift”:)

The Bridge Pose moves the heart closer to the mind     

It’s also all about safety and … patience. Patience with ourselves we find so many faults with – those self-defeating questions and self-doubts:

  • I used to be able to do this, why not now?
  • why can’t I do this?
  • if only I were more flexible …
  • why can’t I look like that yogi on the cover of Yoga Journal magazine, lol?

Then comes process of “acceptance” and then …  “gratitude”.  Gratitude for this life; for this beautiful and perfect body of imperfections.  It’s not a defeat.  It’s an awakening.  Of the Mind.  It’s beautiful how a repeated practice can transform us.

Lots of learning and to respect privacy, I cannot post all the intricate teachings that took place … and while we were serious students, there often were moments of laughter.  Just wanted to show how hands-on and super detailed she was in all her cues and explanations.  That’s why she’s a true teacher we, yoga teachers who had the privilege to learn from her, so respect.

Want to learn posthumously?  I don’t think she released any of her teachings online – she was direct, in your face, in the same space, highly charged energy – a real teacher.  But if you want to get a glimpse – a sense, there are some very good interviews and some video footage of her teaching.

 

When talking about tailoring or customizing a sequence or modifying an asana, she had quoted something like:

” as long as its for the benefit of that student; not benefit of teacher’s ego; benefiting your ability to be nicer to your knees, your hips, or this or that (just insert any problematic body parts) – it is a privilege to teach yoga to this student at that moment.”