Monday, January 9, 2012

What happened to my bon bons?!

"And then the Vacation Fairy waved her sparkly wand and vanished into a cloud of pixie dust. As the Reluctant Ashtangi caught a glimpse of herself, she realised that she had been turned back into a pumpkin. A pumpkin who had to go back to work..."

*snortsnuffle* *wakesup*

Oh! I must have been dreaming, a very bad dream! But surely I have hours and hours of The Lazy still ahead of me, afternoons spent eating chocolate bon bons while laying in bed, reading a book...no? NO?

Oh.

Today, my full schedule of classes kick back in. I'm busy, busy, busy and will be all week, and I'll be on my full schedule pretty much until summer when it all starts to slow down again (the traditional season of 'schedule death' for professional yoga teachers).

I'm happy to be busy and I'm not complaining. But! After only a couple weeks on holiday, I've sort of gotten out of the whole 'time management' habit. It's been a rude awakening, hard to get used to. Well, that, and the mysterious disappearance of those bon bons.

The controversy continues to rage over Yoga Wrecking Your Body (I expect t-shirts to come out any day now). Of course, everybody is linking to Eddie's response (we love you, Eddie!). Also, Loo wrote a long and thoughtful post over on Small Blue Pearls: Time to Take a Big Breath. YJ's blog weighs in with a comment from MD and YJ Medical Editor Dr. Timothy McCall: Is Yoga Unsafe?

Is this the end of this discussion? Probably not. And one key theme that keeps leaping out of the reponses I've read so far is this: The safety of a yoga student is directly proportional to the quality of training received by the teacher instructing that student. Hm...

That issue is a bit of a tired one, but I do have a few thoughts and I'll share them soon.

But first, I have a question for YOU. This is not only for the Ashtangis out there, but also the Bikramites, the Anusaris, the Iyengaris and all of you who practice yoga in any form (I was kind of on a roll there - sounded a bit like the cast of a Star Trek episode, didn't it?)

Here's my question(s):What makes a yoga teacher (or *your* yoga teacher) awesome? What are your own set of qualifications for the person who teaches YOU? What do you need from a teacher-student relationship? Does rapport matter? Does knowlege of anatomy, alignment? What about tradition and lineage? Have your needs changed as your practice has developed? What about home practice? Do you even *need* a teacher to order to grow a yoga practice?

No need to 'name names' in your comment - this isn't about individuals, but more about general values. If you don't want to comment publicly, you can email me (reluctantashtangi on Google Mail) and I'll keep your repsonses private.

Okay. Ready, set, go...




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7 comments:

sereneflavor said...

I think that someone who has been practicing for a long time ( and I mean 10 years +) and is STILL practicing, makes a very good instructor. I am not saying that is the only condition, but learning yoga takes a long time, and learning how to teach it even longer. I think that applies to all members of the intergalactic federation.

Loo said...

Ah! yes. The teacher issue. So for me, I admit that experience is #1. I have an inherent distrust of newbie teachers. That said: what makes someone an amazing teacher is an ability to communicate clearly; a deep usually intuitive understanding of the body in its many variations; compassion and a sense of humor.

One reason I gravitate to older teachers is also they are usually more into teaching for its own sake and less about "I'm teaching to support my practice"...

but this is all to be taken with a lump of salt. Tomorrow I could meet an amazing 24 year old teacher who has only taught for 5 minutes and who will change my life!

Kaivalya said...

@Serene
Experience is high on my list, but I'm more specific - I need a teacher with experience practising, teaching and learning the physical mechanics and anatomy of yoga.

That said, the best teachers I've ever practised with have had upwards of 30 years of practice under their belts. Nothing beats time and a committment to practice.

My teacher 'wish-list' includes people like David Swenson, Richard Freeman and *swoon* Dena Kingberg. Ya know, when I win the lottery and go on my Ashtanga World Tour ;-)

Kaivalya said...

@Loo
I've never understood the "...teaching to support my practice" or teachers who think that being a teacher will mean they get to 'practice all the time.' Very weird. The last thing I think about when I'm teaching a room full of students is what *my* body is doing (to my own detriment, at times).

Yeah, it's probably an unfounded bias in many cases, but I too tend to steer clear of teachers much younger than myself.

VeganDawn said...

My favorite is very philosophical and always makes me think. He doesn't give a ton of alignment cues, he teaches intermediate/advanced classes and is one of the more challenging teachers at the studio so it's not as necessary. He clearly loves teaching and puts all his energy into it and expects that we put as much into it, modifications, fine, half-assing it, no. He encourages us to find our edge and fail in a pose rather than taking it easy, but not at the expense of our safety.

I do like a variety of teachers, but my favorites are more about the experience than where our feet are pointed.

VeganDawn said...

My favorite is very philosophical and always makes me think. He doesn't give a ton of alignment cues, he teaches intermediate/advanced classes and is one of the more challenging teachers at the studio so it's not as necessary. He clearly loves teaching and puts all his energy into it and expects that we put as much into it, modifications, fine, half-assing it, no. He encourages us to find our edge and fail in a pose rather than taking it easy, but not at the expense of our safety.

I do like a variety of teachers, but my favorites are more about the experience than where our feet are pointed.

Kaivalya said...

@VeganDawn
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :-) This idea really resonated with me: a teacher who encourages you to reach beyond what you 'thought' you could do, but keeps you safe at the same time. Absolutely key for advanced students - any student, really.