Yoga National Guard, Take Three

Last Friday began our third tour of duty with Yoga National Guard. Seven more to go.

I came into this month’s adventure with better attitude than I did last month, but not by much. As we sat in a circle, reintroducing ourselves, I listened as person after person proclaimed how happy they were to be there and how much they’d been looking forward to this weekend. When it came around to me, I essentially said, “Hi! I’m Chili and I have to be honest with you all and say that I’m not as happy to be here as you all seem to be. My husband’s been gone all week and came home LITERALLY half an hour ago. I picked him up and he dropped me off. Not that I don’t like you or anything, but really? I’d rather be home right now.” They laughed and sympathized, though, so I must not have come off too badly.

We started this weekend learning another chant. Yipee. This one, I’ve been told, is the yogic equivalent of “our Father” and – get this! – it comes with HAND GESTURES! Not only do we get to singsong Sanskrit, but we get to do “itsy bitsy spider,” too!

Seriously, though? I recognize that all this chanting, and all my resistance to it, is really very instructional. It gives me a chance to investigate my feelings (exactly why am I so resistant to these chants?) and exposes me to new belief systems and practices. I don’t mean to come off as disrespectful when I grouse about chanting: I respect it for what it is. I’m just saying that the practice doesn’t (yet?) fit into my own paradigm.

The bulk of Saturday was spent in learning more hands-on adjustments (my Weeble is going to LOVE me!). We stared with wide forward bend:


This was my favorite pose of those we investigated. I’m very interesting in making my own form more precise and correct, and I love being scrutinized and adjusted so that I get the most out of a pose – and that I get that ‘most’ safely. I learned what to look for (foot position, level of hips, line of spine and shoulders, that sort of thing) and how to gently encourage participants to correct imbalances.  I’m always amazed by how good a little adjustment can be; it doesn’t look like much, but it FEELS fantastic.

We also worked with what Cicely calls “hand to big toe” pose:


and chair pose:


I tend to use chair as a transition and not as a static pose, but it’s good to know some adjustments and alignments. Honestly, I would correct the woman in the picture so that her knees are more behind her toes, but whatever.

The balancing pose is one that is very challenging for me, so I tend to not teach it very often.

That may change.

I’m starting to recognize that I don’t have to feel 100% comfortable in a pose in order to include it in my teaching practice; it may be especially helpful for my participants to see me struggle and challenge myself with poses. I could well be setting a good example about being satisfied where one is right now, whether I fall out of poses or not.

The rest of Saturday was given over to a guest speaker who delivered an in-depth look into Sanskrit and the origins of yoga. I’m still digesting all he had to say, though: I’ll likely write more about that later.

All photos from YogaJoural online.


1 Comment

Filed under learning, ruminating, teaching, yoga - theory and practice

One response to “Yoga National Guard, Take Three

  1. Have you read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert? Your struggle reminds me of the four months she spent in India at an Ashram. For a large part of it she really struggled with the chanting. And the meditating.
    If you haven’t read this book I highly recommend it. It is my favourite book of 2007…I got it from the library but have since ordered a copy from Chapters.

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