My parents stayed for the weekend. I enjoyed treating them a bit and relaxing with those who know me in a special way. Conversations were mainly light and we had some good laughs, the generation gap not being stretched to breaking point. Sign of yogic flexibility off the mat perhaps!?
Yesterday afternoon as my dad dozed gently on the sofa my mum watched me preparing this week’s class. I had a basic outline of what I wanted to teach so I rolled through a few things on the mat, checking some alignment points, playing with some transitions, seeing how different asanas might be used to explore the overall message of the class. I typed up some notes, a bit of internet research checking different cues in poses I’ve not taught before and circling back to the mat to see if they worked for me, which bits to incorporate and what to reject for now. I was working briskly wanting to get something roughed out. Monday night has become the finessing night when I work through everything myself, putting a playlist together and checking timings. As a beginner it’s a lot of work each week, but it’s enjoyable. I’m learning so much, about āsanas, about myself, about reading my students’ needs and how to meet them.
Then my mum hesitantly asked if we could do something together too. Of course we could! She doesn’t really practise, just a few minutes of favourite poses here and there when she remembers. So I offered something short and simple. I wanted to focus on inner awareness, exploring the sensations of muscles moving, finding some modest joy in uniting breath with movement, gratitude for what is. Her body is ageing but it’s still a comfortable place to be: that’s worth celebrating surely! I wanted to keep her safe, so I emphasised a couple of important alignment points and safe ways of moving in case she repeats this at home on her own, and we played in tree — her favourite pose — with me holding her steady while we grinned at our familiar, similar reflections in the mirror opposite. Mother and daughter time in a way neither of us would have expected even just a few years ago. Apparently she now tells all her friends I’m a qualified yoga teacher.
For this there was no prep time, just teaching from the heart. It’s easy when it’s your own flesh and blood. But how can I bring such attention and love to all my teaching? It was an interesting comparison with other teaching experiences where head tends to lead more than my heart. For now at least. But I glimpse how this teaching journey unfolds even in my first months of tentative steps. I start to see how the elements of one’s sadhana form a tapestry, different threads making up the overall picture of one’s teaching. Anatomical understanding and safe sequencing of āsanas, yes, but also drawing on the less tangible experiences: the dark hours of sitting with fear and pain as well as the joyful days of liquid grace, the patient and sustained attention to the movement of the breath, or keeping faith through 108 turns of a mantra, or finding inspiration in the yoga scriptures. Much of this will never be voiced but it’s all there somewhere inside me. And in the moment perhaps I can draw on this, seeing what the person in front of me needs on this day. If I can do that for my mum, can I do it for anyone?