I know I’ve said it before, but one again I think I’ve just been to the hardest yoga class ever. Physically, I mean. Well, along with that of course come the challenges of managing my emotions, reactions and fears, as well as trying to keep up some regularity of breathing… So not just physically.
I went to the nearby studio again, after first class there last week. This time class was with the studio owner… Yeah, I know what that can mean, so I opted for the Level 1 class. Thankfully. After my experiences today, I simply can’t imagine what his L3 class would be like!
After 10 minutes of class the teacher switched to English from Greek, saying that it was clear I didn’t understand! 😳 Oh! I thought I’d been doing OK, considering I had told him I didn’t have any experience of yoga instructions in Greek. Linguistic competence aside, I don’t think he thought much of my practice overall. I tend to be cautious and I take my time to explore, but he was clearly wanting me to move deeper into poses, especially the backbends, but also Caturanga (never mind my own teacher’s ‘not below the level of your elbows’ rule), and forward folds. Am I paranoid or could I feel his frustration every time he came over to me?
Certainly he adjusted my blocks numerous times, moving them from the highest to lowest setting so I’d have to reach further to find even my fingertips connecting with the block. Then in Parivritta Parsvakonasa he repeatedly punched my back thigh, telling me to straighten the leg more, more, more. I’m not used to this kind of thing in class, though it certainly made me smarten up a bit to avoid this treatment as we changed sides. “Better”, he said, and on the second side I just got a little kick to make me lift the thigh higher… 😦
And the holds! Argh! Well, I have been playing a little in my own practice with staying longer in some asanas. As I begin to notice my temptation to move out as soon as sensations get a bit intense, I wonder how it would be to stay and feel… But I’m exploring this with simple postures where there is already some sense of stability and integrity. Not Kamatkarasana (Wild Thing), Ustrasana (Camel), Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana…
And then came the inversions. Not just Pinca Mayurasana as I experienced last week; now the teacher urged me to come further away from the wall and begin to explore this posture as a backbend, working towards Vrishcikasana (Scorpion Pose). I didn’t feel very safe with this because it’s completely new to me and I don’t understand the anatomical actions well enough. The teacher was busy with other students doing Vrishcikasana to Urdhva Dhanurasana drop-backs, and because he didn’t come over to help I took some rest and enjoyed watching the other students. I think this is OK in my own teacher’s classes back home, but here I got treated to a lecture about working hard and keeping good focus on one’s own practice…😦
I have not had such a demoralising class where I feel such frustration from the teacher in a long, long time, and where I feel unable to respond wisely to the instructions given. Viveka (wise discernment) deserted me.
In fairness I reckon he is a good teacher. If this was my regular class, I’d probably adore him; I’d work hard and learn a lot. But as drop-in foreign student, this wasn’t my experience. Too many demons on my mat about how physically capable I am, what head-thoughts hold me back, how much I might trust physical assists, all the confusion about what I am really seeking on the mat. I don’t have sufficient yoga maturity to take from this experience the lessons I might learn — other than that I don’t like being hit while I practise yoga, however well-intentioned it might be. So I went home and had a therapeutic cry in the shower. Backbends have always brought really intense emotional experiences for me, even if my postures don’t look much to the teacher! Perhaps some other lessons will reveal themselves in time…