Keeping score

My teacher very rarely offers any comment on the quality (or qualities) of my yoga practice. I am never sure how to read this, never really sure how to read him as a teacher. Is he paying me a massive implicit compliment not imposing his perspective on me, trusting that I’ll figure it all out in time, how things need to be — provided perhaps that he can teach me to pay good attention? I’d like to think it’s something like that.

But in the world of modern yoga consumerism, aren’t I a customer as much as a student, however much I’d like to be considered serious in my approach to yoga? Maybe he simply feels it would be off-putting to comment, that I would take it amiss, as criticism rather than observation intended to be helpful. Maybe I would take my custom elsewhere, to someone more obviously nice to me?

In any case through circumstances I have been practising a little with a different teacher recently. I try to limit myself, finding multiplicity of teaching voices a little confusing, but two is a good number — allowing me to see the teachings of each with greater clarity through the similarities and the differences between them.

The second teacher knows my physical practice less well, but she is much more forthright in offering her evaluations as a teacher. Without me asking she recently summed up my practice:

I know the shapes pretty well and have a good sense of the appropriate alignment but I’m too worried about whether I’m doing it correctly and I lack joy in my movement.

I’m never going to ask, but I reckon number one teacher would agree. I did, half pleased, half shocked by the terse summary. I feel stupidly proud that his good efforts in teaching me are recognised in this appraisal of my good alignment. But maybe now that the alignment is shaping up well, it’s time to attend to the joy and other subtle qualities? Sthira sukham asanam, right?

And bang on cue I get an email from number two teacher, part of a much broader discussion of my sadhana than just my asana practice, in which she commented on my intelligence, grace and strength and how my increasing allowance of vulnerability contributes to all these things. And noting that this brings her great joy to witness.

I am touched beyond belief. I try not to need feedback from my teachers, but a little does go a long way.

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