So I’ve completed my baby Iyengar course now (6 introductory sessions at the Iyengar Institute in London). I was sad to miss the final class with the usual teacher since I was (ahem) teaching a class myself. So I hauled myself down one evening after work to catch a session with another teacher.
It was interesting to see similarities and differences between teachers — as always. The cues offered were very similar and there was a clearly defined syllabus/repertoire of poses, so it all felt familiar, but the difference in teaching style was what struck me the most! The regular teacher was friendly enough although a little more brusque than I’m used to, but this teacher took it to a different level altogether.
“What’s wrong with you?” she snapped at the man in front of me as she tried to pull his arms closer together in Urdhva Hastāsana. “What have you been doing all your life, you’re like cement!” Wow! I’ve never heard a teacher speak like this to a student before, especially not a beginner who was clearly doing the best he could. She was sarcastic to another man who was confused about whether to use blocks or rest on his shin in Parśvotanāsana (“I said blocks! Is your shin a block? No? Well then, don’t confuse your shin with a block!”), and her assists to a woman across the room caused some audible groans from the student. Every time.
No judgements of another teacher, right, but I’m just glad this wasn’t my first experience of yoga or of this studio/tradition — otherwise it might also have been my last. But I guess I’m not a total yoga baby anymore; I know enough about how to look after myself … And I haven’t been shy in the past in telling an over-assertive teacher to back off in a strong assist. Even if they’re some yoga-celebrity, if a teacher doesn’t know me, they should be cautious in handling me. I can bite! The problem with this teaching style for me personally is that it brings out my bolshie attitude and I’m more likely to hurt myself without any help from the teacher, as I strain to prove that I really can do something! Did I use blocks in Parśvotanāsana after this exchange? Absolutely not!! …contrary to my usual tendency to use a block anytime I possibly can!
So despite the attitude of this particular teacher (and my stubborn ego!), I really would like to continue with some more classes there and explore a little further, if I can possibly cram it into my schedule. The different approach to poses in Iyengar style is making me more aware of my body, my habits and avoidances, the limits of my physical and intellectual understanding of each āsana. I hope this will eventually lead me to think about how to cue better in my own teaching and Hubby thinks my own practice has already changed. It’s all fascinating!
Plus I haven’t had a chance to use the rope wall yet! Nor one of those folding chairs!
But I don’t think I’ll be giving up vinyasa any time soon. I miss my flow…