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Being me when I’m being here
BY MAGAZINE ART EDITOR AJA BLANC
Before I started teaching my first yoga classes and when I was getting very nervous about the whole endeavor, one piece of advice I heard over and over again was “Just get out of your own way and everything will be fine!”
But what exactly does that mean? I’m the teacher, I thought, how can I get out of the way when I am front and center?
All forms of self-defeating behavior are unseen and unconscious, which is why their existence is denied.
It’s often hard to see what is holding us back, especially if it’s ourselves. Lucky for me, my yoga practice has me paying really close attention to such things. It’s called Svadhyaya, or self-study. Svadhyaya is one of the Niyamas, or observances in the Yoga Sutras. Niyamas are observances and Yamas are restraints. I think of the Yamas as things not to do and the Niyamas as good things to do.
Note to self: you dont need these notes
Self-study is a great thing to do. Just a few classes into teaching, I realized pretty quickly how I was getting in the way of myself. It was the copious notes. Before each class I would prepare extensive notes on everything I wanted to include – each posture and the order, and everything I knew about each pose – from alignment to anatomy. I would show up with a thick stack of papers, sit on my mat, look at my real live students in front of me and then at my stack of papers.
It didn’t take long to throw that stack of notes aside and just get down to the business of teaching.
Once I got out of my own way, my teaching became more authentic as well as a lot more fluid and responsive. I had to trust myself and have faith in my own abilities and knowledge. The yoga mat is a great place to practice trusting yourself. Towards the end of a yoga class, I often invite students to follow up with whatever movements or postures that feel best to them.
Those who trust their own needs are guided from within and move fluidly in their bodies. Those who have never taken that permission feel bewildered without the teacher’s guidance and wonder what is the “right” thing to do next.
Tripping over over-thinking
I remember when my own yoga teacher first offered me the opportunity to flow from within and I mentally tripped over myself trying to figure out what the best pose would be. “I should do an inversion, oh yeah, that would be impressive! No, that is showing off, how about child’s pose? No, that would be lame. What is everyone else doing? Should I do what he’s doing?”
It took awhile before I would learn to step aside and enjoy moving intuitively from within.
Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself.
~The Bhagavad Gita
Removing the obstacle of the over-thinking mind and trusting your own senses can not only clear your path on the yoga mat, but in life as well. This does not mean it’s a guarantee that things will always work out for the best, but more of a learning to “tolerate the consequences of being yourself.” When I first heard that quote, I thought it was a bit funny. Yet when I think back to those copious yoga class notes sitting in a pile next to my mat, getting rid of them was trusting in the consequences of just being me, the yoga teacher, without something in the way of that.
Consequences, yes, but authenticity too
Sometimes the consequences of being me aren’t always that great. Teaching without the notes left for some interesting, if not cringe worthy, unscripted moments. Did I really just tell my class that jumping on trampolines without a bra is great for breast health? Oh man. But overall, when I removed myself as a hurdle and trusted in my own knowledge and wisdom, my teaching began to shine from a place that is authentic and sincere.
I think just being you, without that little shadow of you always running ahead trying to fix everything or control everything, is a heck of a lot better than an ongoing battle against yourself. And Svadhyaya helps to keep us from checking out completely. Ultimately, living with the consequences of being ourselves provides the opportunity to live from a place of real truth, growth and happiness.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.