I walked in on coffee-time conversation at work this week, with colleagues discussing how they hated the fact that the gym instructors don’t actually do the class themselves. The point was that they just didn’t believe some things were possible. The teacher screams at them to do another set of reps, to go deeper, push harder or whatever it is… But they simply didn’t believe that the teacher could do the things they were demanding of the class. Apparently a bit of solidarity would go a long way.
Oh! I hastily pointed out that although I don’t always demonstrate postures in class that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own practice and it doesn’t mean I ask my students to do things I can’t actually do myself. “Pff, of course it’s not the same at all. We know you can do it and it’s really great knowing you’re keeping an eye on us and you go round helping us”. An emphatic response that these students at least didn’t doubt my abilities at yoga asana in the least!
And why should they? I lead them competently (albeit mostly verbally) through a coherently structured sequence each week, my cuing suggests that I know what I’m talking about, and often enough I’ll throw in some comment about my personal experience of a particular posture or an aspect of it that I’m particularly interested in right now. I guess that adds up to the impression of someone who can ‘do’ yoga.
It’s only me who doubts myself. I joked with my teacher this week that I’m trying to let go of my beginner brain, even while everyone else seems to be trying to cultivate one. I’m trying to let go of the idea that I can’t do many things, that I need always to modify, and go easy, that I can’t actually do yoga to any great degree. My students wouldn’t recognise this attitude in me I think. And I’m not bunging on a yoga teacher act for them. So it seems there’s more than one truth in my practice. I’m trying to reconcile the truths.
Epic fail then in my one to one this week. My teacher deliberately positioned me in front of the mirror — and I simply avoided looking at it the whole time. For which Hubby roundly told me off when I reported to him. He told me I was a terrible student, impossible for my teacher, and clearly not trying hard enough! Ouch! In my defence I was trying to cultivate some proprioception, as we worked on a particular action that I just don’t feel accurately and my tendency is to self-adjust in the opposite direction to that required. I think that needs some focus on feeling. The mirror doesn’t help me much.
But even so I’m never going to join up my vision of myself with what others might see if I can’t bear to open my eyes. I do use a mirror at home quite regularly now, but under the teacher’s unwavering gaze I just seem to regress. Beginner brain to the max! But I don’t think Hubby’s right: I’m not incorrigible, just a bit lacking in courage or common sense… Always more practice needed. I’m OK with that.