I went to a zoom ‘masterclass’ with one of my teachers recently. Hubby wondered what a yoga masterclass is. I don’t really know. These funny words that get used in yoga land! He hears snippets of the classes I attend at home and I think he receives an odd perspective about how yoga classes work. He’s quite antithetical towards yoga teachers in general and he has characterised this teacher as particularly ‘shouty’. She has a combination of Jivamukti and Iyengar training and so how could it be otherwise 😉 But seriously… I wasn’t sure how to respond. I don’t feel shouted at! I feel challenged yet also supported in my efforts. So I listened out in class to see if I could explain to Hubby how the teacher managed an all-levels class (or masterclass).
At the start of class in Uttanasana I noted that she asked one student to use a chair (exhorting her repeatedly, so presumably she really wanted this modification to be taken) and another student she advised to use blocks, with some follow up comments about how he might then work into the pose more fully from this starting point. I usually follow this cuing, but I’ve been working on my Uttanasana and today I was called out by name to bring my hands down onto the floor in lines with my heels. She caught my uncertainty because I was reassured: “yes, even if the palms aren’t fully on the floor”. It felt OK and made some sense of the difficulty I’ve been having in figuring out the angles of arms and legs and the weight distribution in hands and feet.
After my initial alertness I slipped into my yoga zone and I’m not too sure how most of the class went. I just know I was kept very busy with rich detailed cuing combined with some beautiful metaphors that made me smile!
Towards the end of class I remember there were various options given for closing postures. Child, Shoulderstand or Headstand. We were told to make a good decision for ourselves. I remember a moment of uncertainty: I wanted to hide in Child’s Pose, play it safe and be still enough to be invisible. But I’m working at not listening to those voices any longer. So I opted for Headstand, thinking this would be an opportunity to find more confidence and more stability in a pose I find quite difficult.
As I expected my Headstand received some attention with some detailed refinements suggested. Oftentimes my teachers offer cues which don’t make too much sense to me but I try to let the doubts go and follow the instructions as best I can — in my body even if my mind doesn’t grasp it. Certainly the pose felt different, more alive. I was satisfied that I had experienced something different and would have been happy to exit the posture which I find effortful and disorientating — even in the comparative ease of this expression. “Now commit to this for five breaths”, I heard my teacher say as though she’d read my mind. She must have observed my tendency to come out early in every class I’ve ever done with her!
But none of this was as shouty and terrible as Hubby feared! True, it was a challenge to stay in my Headstand, both emotionally and physically, but after class I had that pleasing stretched, tired, energised feeling in my body which I associate with a well-balanced physical practice. That, in combination with the pranayama and mantra work, left me feeling wonderfully restored in body and soul.
Maybe Hubby is missing out. I think my teachers are awesome ❤️