Raw yoga

One of my reports at work has just been refused a place on a management training course, as part of a cost-cutting exercise. She’s disappointed and she feels as though she’s missing out on something. But really she’s been doing just fine without this course for more than a year. “You don’t need it,” I told her. “There’s no deep trick to being a manager. You simply do the best you can with the experience you have. You balance being kind and compassionate with being effective and responsible. You listen. You guide. And just sometimes you have to get a bit shouty. Plus there are so many online resources and great books in our library, you can seek out some new inspiration when you encounter a new difficulty. Or come to me when you need advice. There’s nothing like learning from your own experience of being managed, right?!”

And then she said it: “But I’m lazy, I like going on a course because I don’t have to do anything for myself. I’m never going to go to the library to fill any particular skills gap.” Well! This isn’t true, she isn’t lazy, but I suppose she’s aware she isn’t massively self-motivated. She wants someone to give her a nicely potted bit of management theory, lead her through some role-plays, and give her some acronyms that will help her recall the stages of a textbook coaching conversation. The kind of thing I hate!

yoga mat giftIt made me think of how I learn in yoga — but kind of in reverse. I realised that going to my teacher’s classes is wonderful. Far and away more wonderful than any management training course! 🙂 He spoils us with the complete yoga package every time, an experience that always moves me, transforms me in some tiny way, allows me to spy a new keyhole at least, even if it doesn’t unlock it and throw the gateway open for me every time. But does this engender a certain ‘training course laziness’? Sure, there’s a lot of work going on at various levels, and not just the physical, but the very fact of it being led encourages some passivity. In class I essentially do what I’m told.

And now that I have my monthly one to ones, I feel I’m kind of asking for the polar opposite of the class experience: raw yoga, nothing neatly packaged, everything up for scrutiny and enquiry, not led so much by the teacher but more by my curiosity and preoccupations of the day, a time for unplanned exploration. And no possibility of hiding in the back row!

vira2Right now I’m trying to draw some conclusions on this month’s homework: an exploration of Vīrabhadrāsana 2. And I realise that while the specifics of this have been interesting in themselves (ranging from anatomical understanding, experience of alignment and energetics through to contemplating ‘meaning’ and mythology), there’s something far more powerful going on in a broader sense.

These little homework tasks reveal to me how much I understand and experience when I really allow myself to, humbling me by the vastness of my ignorance certainly, but validating my growing knowledge also. I do know stuff — I am actually surprised to realise this! And the measuring of a month also has a weird way of slowing time down, somehow giving me the space to play around a bit more, and then wherever I’ve got to within the allotted time, I just move on. Less getting stuck, less endless ruminating. Some acceptance of cycles of learning and understanding; there will be time to return here again one day yet. I don’t have to know it all now. Nor should I. Aparigraha, right?

I know I’ve said it before (and doubtless will many times hence!) but just maybe ‘now is the beginning of yoga’? atha yogāuśasanam.

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