I’m a few months now into my routine of a monthly private session with my teacher. It sort of feels already like an indispensable yoga must-have, but it also feels like early days in something new, something that I am/we are feeling our way into. What do I want from this opportunity? Help with figuring out what my practice is in some grand sense? Help with figuring out what my teaching practice is and how to work my way through all those first time uncertainties? Or help figuring out how my body might find some particular asana or how to move through a transition more gracefully, or… or… or…?
So far it’s any or all of those things. As I said, early days. But already an unexpectedly good thing about the arrangement is the accompanying yoga homework. Yoga homework – who knew this was even a thing? My teacher usually plays the ‘no expectations’ card pretty fully so that I wonder if he’d react in any way at all if I never showed up to class again! But I guess asking for a regular commitment from him indicates a certain seriousness from me. Hence yoga homework, with the implicit expectation that I want this, that I will engage with it as well as I can — even if sometimes I’d prefer to avoid the issue or I don’t like the question! It encourages me to think differently, to look beyond the surface, and (importantly for me, I realise) to feel that I’m not venturing alone: I return to base camp each month.
As well as mulling over the current focus, I’m still playing through last month’s ideas. All about putting together a particular teaching sequence based around some aspect of interest in my own practice, a step towards marrying up two facets of my yoga and helping me to find my voice. It was a great discipline, encouraging me to think various things through more than I might have done, to take time to explore, to articulate what I found, and then to start thinking how I might turn my explorations into something I could teach. Super-shy in showing him my notes — what if I look like I didn’t learn anything from his TT? After all this feels a bit like PhD supervision all over again, and I still shudder at my advisor’s cutting reaction one time “surely we all got past that idea in kindergarten”. Ouch!
But now I’m into the fun part of playing with how to teach my ideas. And although I’d be trying this anyway, somehow it’s nice to feel a supportive framework: I don’t want to report that I got bored, ran out of ideas, or lost confidence part way through and hurried to turn the teaching theme into something else too soon. I want to give myself the discipline of sticking to this theme and seeing how it changes through the teaching of it, how it works in the different bodies/people I get to teach, how it evolves through my own practice, and what I learn from this balance of same-but-different evolution over a few weeks.
I’ve been doing a little Bhagavad Gita study recently and came across the idea, as Arjuna seeks out Krishna, that yoga only starts when you know how to ask for help. I’m not at all sure I know the questions to ask yet, but I’m glad to have some help at hand as I start to figure it out, month by month.