The inspiration for my classes last week unfolded gradually in 4 different ways. It all started as I was studying for my latest Anatomy quiz and my daughter observed excitedly that I was both a teacher AND a student. I thought about that for a moment and I responded back that, in fact, each of us is a Teacher and a Student. I explained to her what I meant and I think she understood in a 10 yr old kind of way.
A couple of days later, I had the pleasure of taking a class with Dana Flynn, owner of Laughing Lotus in NYC, and as I settled down on my mat I was introduced to the student next to me. I asked her if she was a teacher and she looked at me almost forlornly and said that she was just an avid student….and again I had the chance to share my inspiration for the week… I reminded her that we are ALL Students and Teachers . As Dana began to speak, she inspired me further. She reminded us that the more we practice, the more we uncover our true self; that Yoga has the power to bring us closer to who we truly are and allow us to become students of ourselves.
From class, I headed to my Anatomy lecture, where again I found myself as a student. I learned information about the movement of the pelvis that I had never known before. At first, it scared me as it brings into question some of the thousand year old practices that we Yoga Teachers live by, but then I was able to find acceptance at the new perspective and gratitude for the reminder and the opportunity to be a student and the teacher on and off my mat.
On our mats last week, I asked my students to spend time in their practice in order to become deeper students of their own Bodies and their own hearts. As we started in Childs pose and moved to Cat/Cows we began to mobilize the hips by lifting the leg and drawing it forward and back and out to the side. Then we moved through our Sun Salutations and as we began to twist in Revolved Trikonasana, I reminded everyone to be their own teacher on the mat and to be a student of their bodies. If that meant letting the hips travel with the spine into their twist, I invited them to explore that. From there we moved into Revolved Half Moon and I offered the same reminder, be your own teacher and student on the mat today, listen to what your body is teaching you.
As we crafted half and full Hanumanasana and built towards Visvamitrasana (pictured above) I again asked my students to remember their task, their practice that day…to be their own teacher and the student of their bodies; to find joy in what they were discovering and allow confusion to lead to knowledge and ultimately, inner truth. When we are students, we have to keep the mind open to accept the information without judgement. We have the luxury of not being expected to know it all. So, whatever their body was teaching them, I asked them to accept that knowledge without judgement, to experience and learn and enjoy the journey.
Just as they were asking questions of their bodies on the mat, I asked them to take that learning off the mat; to explore habitual behavior that may not be serving them in their lives; to ask questions as a Student of Life…. even if the answers are unknown. And to also remind themselves of the Teacher they are. We all have something to offer; to teach….that is why we are here.
As they began to move into deep back bending with the promise of Savasana, I felt the breath begin to release. Then as they settled into Corpse Pose, I again became aware of my own journey; Of what a gift it is to be a Student and a Teacher both on my mat and off and the incredible Gratitude I feel. Gratitude for all my Teachers on the mat and in my life and Gratitude to all my amazing students who allow me to be their Teacher, and who are my Teachers as well. Namaste.