I heard a teacher say recently that the term ‘authentic’ is used so often it makes you think the opposite. I have that feeling about ‘transformative’ also. I kind of groan inwardly each time I come across it, or hear myself about to say it. But it does seem that way, yoga really does seem transformative. I can’t deny it.
My Monday teaching sometimes seems a big ask. It’s a difficult time for me; Mondays can be a bit of a slog for all of us and my office day culminates with my least favourite meeting of the week, which takes a lot of energy to manage appropriately. Teaching straight after that (just time for running home, jumping into leggings, and taking a few deep breaths) also requires a lot of energy. Watching my students tonight, seeing them try some new things more willingly than usual, their trust in me now replacing their habitual performance anxiety, their bigger shapes reflecting greater confidence, slower and steadier transitions founded in greater stability — I thought this looked pretty transformative. Some small yoga magic — and the magic for me in witnessing it, perhaps having a small part in nurturing it.
And a few words around class — they connected with what I’d been talking about in class, about Autumn feeling a like time of greater flightiness, more rushing to the next thing, not a place to dwell. They were feeling those things also, the end of year approaching with personal and professional busy-ness. And they were appreciating the opportunity yoga offers to practise some different way of being. Perhaps they too had some sense of how they were changing, because they wanted to tell me how helpful hands-on assists were to them. One of them said her practice was ‘transformed’ by this mode of support, the other said it showed her places she didn’t know existed. Wow. I’m pretty modest in my assists, slowly coming to see what might be needed through close watching of their bodies each week. But perhaps small things can have big effects.
But it’s also good to know when to leave things be and not get involved. I remind myself often not to try to ‘fix’ things, to allow things to take their natural course. It’s very much like this with Hubby’s yoga and his relationship with it. He’s been surprising me a lot recently, while I’ve been trying to remain something of supportive bystander, available to call on but otherwise un-involved. In asana practice, he did his first Surya Namaskar in more than a year last weekend. He asked me to lead him through. I think he just needed moral support rather than instruction. His body and its glitchy bits are transforming themselves, whether he believes it or not.
Recently I find him often tinkering with my harmonium. He tolerated its appearance this summer, then he got curious and liked watching/listening to me, now he’s asking me to show him simple chords (the only type I know!). With no musical background at all, he’s full of joy and wonder that he can sit down at this intimidating looking instrument and make some plausible noises! When his hands have found their place more confidently, he sometimes asks me to teach him the words too. We got half way through the guru mantra recently, before he gave up. Too long. Too imcomprehensible.
But a few days later he asked me to write it down for him. And then today I found him reciting it while he made dinner.