It Is The Practice That Teaches Not The Teacher

Practice 2013

I have taught Ashtanga for years now and have trained in it extensively. I know the practice beyond the postures just because of the practice itself. That is what I’m teaching.

I know some “Ashtanga” teachers who do not practice it and therefore do not know the practice as a practice. They do not know the intricacies of it.

These teachers bow to the pressures of students’ to add postures which do not belong in the series, make it harder or easier by changing the posture rather than the intensity of the original posture itself, and let go of the rhythm of the class to appease those who just want to give up or make it easier so the ego can feel better. This is to the detriment of the practice, Ashtanga.

I have had great difficulty teaching Ashtanga after these teachers because students are not being educated in it.

It is the nature of the ego to make things easier – to stay in the status quo, to not push boundaries or get out of our comfort zone. But what is practice if it is not doing that – it is just exercise. It isn’t yoga if it isn’t challenging you to observe your need for: comfort, perfection, placating.

Yoga doesn’t placate – the teacher decides to do that and then it is just exercise. And don’t be fooled, just because you’re in a class that kicks your ass because it’s fast and you do every difficult posture in the yoga spectrum, doesn’t mean that it is challenging your ego – in fact that feeds your ego as well. The minute you say – oh look at that shiny thing – that’s when the ego is engaged.

I challenge you to get really bored in your practice – to strive for something else besides a good ego fix. Yoga is about personal, spiritual growth. It is to stretch you in a different way. The way that is most beneficial. Flexibility in every aspect does not necessarily manifest only in the body. Just because someone can bend over backwards, doesn’t mean that they have cracked the code of yoga. If it comes easily to you, I challenge you to find a place where you have to work for it.

Peace!
Christine xo

Restless Spirit Hours the Week of December 16th…

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Come in for a visit and let’s chat! We’ll sit here and do cards or a session for your deepening. Or we’ll sit in meditation in the space right behind me and let Grace take over. Whatever it is that you would like to do, Restless Spirit is a very harmonious, spiritual place and you are welcome anytime to come talk with me!

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I’m planning to be in the studio Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 11-7pm, and maybe Friday. Oh of course it all depends on the weather.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I have some appointments so I’ll be there for sure. Text me to make sure I’m available at the time you want to drop in.

Hope to see you all soon!

Remember to book your appointments with me here or email, or by texting or calling. Thx.

Sharath Jois in Copenhagen…

Lovely vid of Sharath in Copenhagen. Wish I were there…

vid by Alessandro Sigismondi.

Yoga: It Is The Practice That Teaches Not The Teacher

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Ashtanga yoga and Iyengar yoga have a few things in common:

1. They both come from a very traditional background and were developed from ancient understandings of yoga. They come from students of Krishnamacharya.

2. They have been taught without variation for decades (except maybe variation of teaching styles to accommodate level of student and time spent in class) and there’s a silent agreement that the form and process of the practice would not be altered. Meaning that: say the Ashtanga series would not see any variation or addition to the main idea and postures of the practice. Teachers knew way-back-when that yoga was not about them.

A lot of derivatives of these practices of yoga have developed since

because of this particular person’s predilections or perhaps that person’s understanding of what it takes to bring Yoga (not only asana) to the masses. Whatever the case, these yogas became things like Vinyasa, Jivamukti, Anusara, etc., and the idea of yoga (asana) expanded for better or worse. We see an explosion of these variations because Asana yoga has become very popular. As it becomes more popular with the “Thinspiration” generation it is more about the body and looking good than ever before. Yoga (asana) is changing because the students have changed.

Is There A Place For Traditional Yoga (Asana) Practice?

Being a fairly traditional Ashtanga teacher, the traditional and strict aspect of both styles can turn off newbie and young students, and those who are looking for self-gratification. I find that it is more the aspect of “I want to feel good about myself and look good” which seems to be paramount for most students these days. Precise instruction and conceptualization is not what students are looking for because somehow it makes some students feel “less than”. It sounds like criticism and doesn’t add the students’ narcissistic vanity of “how good I am for being here and doing this”.

I have found that these days having a good sweat is not enough. The classes have to appeal to the aspect of personal power. So the more challenging postures in a class the better.

I tend to balance my classes (this is when I teach Stylized Vinyasa) with a style of teaching that challenges and at the same time, I do not introduce postures like some arm balances or things like the splits, etc., unless I see that the majority of students are a little more seasoned and I’ve taught them for a while and gotten to know them. I have witnessed classes where teachers will put beginners into some poses at risk of injury without any concern and the students just love it. Conversely, I have challenged those who just wanted to really do a restorative class (wasn’t even advertised as one but they expected it (?)) and gotten my head chewed off because of it.

Just Teach As The Practice Dictates – Not What Your Or Your Students’ Egos Dictate

There really isn’t any way to predict students’ preferences anyhow, and I have to say that Iyengar and Ashtanga stay steadfast in maintaining the traditional way of teaching as much as possible – and no, I don’t mean yelling at your students or calling them names – that is the style of the teacher not the practice, and doesn’t come from the deep understanding of the practice. I mean that the process through which the student is guided is as much about the practice as it is about the student.

It Is The Practice That Teaches Not The Teacher

Iyengar must stay as Iyengar as possible. Otherwise it starts to get confused. I have taught Ashtanga for years now and have trained in it extensively. I know the practice beyond the postures just because of the practice itself. That is what I’m teaching. I know some “Ashtanga” teachers who do not practice it and therefore do not know the practice as a practice. They do not know the intricacies of it. These teachers bow to the pressures of students’ to add postures which do not belong in the series, make it harder or easier, and let go of the rhythm of the class to appease those who just want to “feel good about myself” to the detriment of Ashtanga. I have had great difficulty teaching Ashtanga after these teachers because students are not being educated in it.

Yoga Is Yoga First And Foremost

But teachers will try anything including risking the injury of their students because for some reason we have decided in this culture that yoga is about popularity and money instead of teaching simply and with humility.

It is the teacher’s role to teach their students about the practice beyond the ego-ic need to be appeased and catered to (Spa-like). The most essential teaching for us as teachers and for our students is that: It is not the practice that makes you feel bad nor is it the teacher’s responsibility. Feeling good about yourself is an inner conflict and learning that and coming to terms with it is revealed in the practice.

The teacher must teach the practice as it is because the practice is beyond the teacher and the student. It is bigger than them.

Peace!

This post is an extended version of a comment I made to a post by a fellow Yogini. Here is the post:

http://yogaspy.com/2013/07/08/can-iyengar-yoga-attract-the-masses/

Thanks Lucy.

Christine

A Vid Series about Yoga…

Check out this vid series about yoga!

There is no need to ‘modernize’ it. Yoga is beyond trend, beyond generation gaps, beyond your ego-ic need for spectacle and fashion. Yoga is Connection to the Divine and always will be no matter what you think you’re seeking!

This portrays the traditional role of the yogi – to be the spiritual part of society. They practice all aspects of yoga. They go into the mountains.

(It seems there are more men than woman. But there are woman, just not a lot – so let’s not get hooked up around that.)
To be a yogi, though these days, you don’t need to go into the mountains. What you do need to do is take on the attitude of not being caught up in the world of material gain, wealth, expression.

Practice letting go. Let go of all of your stuff materially: mentally, physically, emotionally. Georg F. expresses it very well. His words are interspersed throughout the series and he expresses it as a westerner who has embraced this task as a yogi – renunciation.

This is the first one of a 4 part series. Please watch all 4! Really worth it.

The Process of an Ashtanga Practice…

The Process of an Ashtanga Practice...

 

I go through what’s on the graph in a split second every other day. 🙂 And it continues to be like that no matter how I advance in my practice. Ashtanga is a complex and very layered, deep practice. There’s always room for improvement, and there is always signs of improvement. It keeps me humble and it fills me with such joy too.

I love Ashtanga … no matter what.

I miss going to Mysore classes…

I miss going to Mysore classes...

I miss my Mysore classes. I miss the feeling of doing yoga in a room with people who are doing similar things. Although it was not a very communal atmosphere; everyone was there for themselves really. So was I. It just felt really good to be in your own practice with people around you. I practice at home alone. Different. I’ve been doing that for about 9 or 10 years now. I’ve become my own teacher finally. I thank all my teachers and teachers of the lineage for their work and guidance throughout the first 20 years of my discovering my own practice. I keep you in my heart.

Picture is from a studio in Boston. I just liked the interaction of the assisting teacher and the student. It was like that sometimes.