Losing My Voice, For Real

It’s ironic that I posted last week about losing my voice in a metaphorical sense.  Or is it merely coincidental?  In any event, the fates have conspired to relieve me of my literal voice for the past few days and consequently, I’ve had to do a lot of thinking (particularly since on the very day my voice left me, my computer was struck down by a virus and left me as well.  I am typing on the mini keyboard of our netbook and am praying that I don’t accidentally delete this post when I rest to think). Continue reading

Letting It Flow Through

Master yoga teachers caution against taking on others’ baggage.  When a person is empathic and able to share another’s emotional experience, it’s tempting to want to take pain away, especially if the person is someone you care about.  At the end of every class she teaches, Seane Corn presses her hands to the earth, transmitting any negative energy she picked up from her students back into the ground.  Ana Forrest flicks the negative energy away with her fingers as she moves from student to student.  She is able to feel their emotions but lets them flow through her body like water through a sieve.

I don’t suffer from these problems, because I’m relatively dense.  In classes, I can usually sense when a student is in some type of distress, but my empathic skills aren’t honed enough to detect subtle negative energy from old or hidden injuries.  And I’m glad, because I have trouble releasing it.

Over the past few years, I’ve had a number of friends come to me with problems.  To put it bluntly, they’ve dumped their shit in my lap, sobbed it out, and walked away feeling better.  And while it’s an honor and a blessing to be a good enough friend and to offer a safe enough haven for them to give up these deep secrets, I’m still left holding a pile of shit in my lap, not knowing what to do.  Sometimes I cry.  Sometimes I eat.  And sometimes, like today, I take on their pain. Continue reading

Gratitude Redux

I hurt my elbow doing something really stupid a few weeks ago.  As a middle-aged yoga teacher, I’m used to modifying my practice to accommodate my injuries (which include two overextended hamstring origins, an old rotator cuff tweak, and the intermittent low back pain that most of my generation seems to have).  I can even let go of my ego sufficiently not to feel obliged to move into–or even attempt–every arm balance, inversion or bind that comes my way.  But when my elbow was out of commission, I couldn’t move into any pose where my weight was supported on bent arms.  Sun Salutations were out of the question.  I couldn’t demo chatturanga for my students.  Bakasana, the easiest of all arm balances, was inaccessible.  Worst of all, I had a hard time practicing with teachers who inspired me.  In a word, it sucked.

At times like these, when someone comes along and talks about how injuries can be our best teachers, I feel more like throttling them than thanking them.   Continue reading

Paleolithic Finger Cuffs, or Giving Up The Struggle

When I tell people I’m a yoga teacher, they respond in predictable ways.  Most of them say something like, “Oh, I’ve tried yoga/I can’t do yoga because I’m completely inflexible/can’t balance/can’t sit still,” or some variation thereof.  Others assume I have an advanced physical practice and can perform acrobatics on the level of gymnast or maybe even a cast member of Cirque de Soleil.

And some think that I’m enlightened. Continue reading

Ahimsa? I Hardly Know Ya.

I was sweating, twisting, and flowing in a room filled with dozens of other yoga students.  We were there for a day-long intensive led by a moderately well-known Midwestern teacher who, from the moment he arrived, seemed overly smug for his stature and reputation.  However, I was looking forward to a day of learning new techniques, sequences, and cues, so I let go of my first impressions and was having a good time until halfway into the practice, the teacher said, “Picture a raw, slimy piece of chicken in one hand and a fresh, crisp bunch of greens in the other.  Which would you choose?” Continue reading