Saturday, May 16, 2015

the joys of teaching!

It has been quite a while.  I hope that you understand.  Balancing practice, a full-time job, and the 7th series doesn't leave a ton of time for blogging. But now the baby sleeps...

I haven't returned to a full teaching schedule.  Right now, I feel that I'm best able to serve my community by subbing for classes at the studio, often Saturday mornings, that are difficult for my shala to get subs.  That means that I'm typically teaching "vinyasa" classes.  But I've made a conscious decision to not teach "vinyasa."  It's not what I practice and not what works for me.  It would be inauthentic for me to teach some random sequence that culminates in eagle or some such. 

Instead, I offer a modified ashtanga class.  I don't tell the students that's what I'm doing at the beginning.  People have too many misconceptions around the practice.  It's really a joy to "trick" people into practicing half primary.  I love working with all levels of students and really get a kick out of it when a student realizes she can do something that she thought was impossible, like finding her fingertips in the marichyasana binds or when another gets her toes off the ground in a controlled attempt at headstand.  Without the prejudice that students can bring to ashtanga, we can laugh our way through work on jump backs and jump throughs.  The practice, especially when done daily, can be serious business.  But there's also a lot of play and a lot of joy to be found there. 

At the end of class, I always tell the students what they've done.  If you loved it, you're in luck!  It's the same sequence every time.  If you didn't love it...well...Those who had some idea of what ashtanga is are often pleasantly surprised.  They'll say, "that was ashtanga?  but that was fun!"  Then, I'll usually explain how the styles are different and talk about the ashtanga classes that the shala offers.  I also try to demystify the Mysore style.

The practice is such a gift to me.  If I am able to inspire one or two other students to really delve into it, then I feel like I've done my job as a sub and dedicated practitioner.