Thursday, July 21, 2005

OK, now I have been outed on the ez board as a "bad lady"

I''m laughing, but I am also ready to put this debate to bed. So, here is my "closing argument" (I did practice as an attorney for 12 years, you know....):

If I didn't split my time between the two shalas, I wouldn't be able to practice on a six-day-a-week basis. Since I want to practice six days a week, then split my time, I must. Period.


Kathy said...

Yoga Chickie,

First off, thanks for the compliment in your prior post. Me a GREAT read?! I was beaming after I saw it I must confess.

You're certainly bearing this chastising well. While you've closed the subject, I can't resist chiming in...

The understanding that most of us have presumably gotten from our teachers is that having only one teacher is incredibly important. Different teachers have different approaches and emphasize different things.

It can be a bit confusing - especially to someone newer to ashtanga as you appear to be - to be practicing with multiple teachers. When I was studying with Guy, he emphasized coming at one time and sticking to one teacher. i.e don't come in the mornings sometimes and then the evenings other days when there is someone else teaching. I think most students would opt for a home practice on the days they can't make it to their normal shala rather than going to three different places. That being said, I did flip flop between the morning and evening for quite some time and eventually I found a way to comit to a morning practice -well actually it required me switching to Eddie's because Guy started too late for me to get there every morning without a ton of stress. I think perhaps the intention of the reprimands you've gotten is just to let you know there might be a better solution. That being said, I think it's something we each have to sort out for ourselves and with the help of our teachers.

Seems to me that the bottom line is that we all hope this [i]is[/i] something you are discussing with whomever you consider your primary teacher and working out with them. Perhaps your teacher can help you come to a better solution than the current teacher hopping you are doing now. Or maybe that's the best thing for you if you have no other options and you wouldn't have the ability (for whatever reason) to practice on your own on the days you can't get to the shala. Obviously your circumstances are extenuating. And your commitment to a daily practice regardless of what it takes is admirable.

Your point about others coming in when teachers are out of town is a valid one. I've wondered this myself and my impression is that it's largely due to student demand. Until recently, it seems that Eddie for example would just close down when he was away. And let's face it, a home practice by ourselves takes far more discipline than many of us can muster up. So having the option of continuing to go to your regular mysore class even when your teacher is away is very convenient.

As for dropping in on Guruji and Sharath for a month or two... If you are studying Ashtanga yoga, it's only natural that you would go to the source as often as you can. I don't see learning from your teacher's teacher as infidelity on the part of a student. Any of your teachers would likely encourage you to do so.

My two cents on the whole teaching gig: It's always been my understanding that one should not be teaching poses in which they are not proficient. And for good reason. If you can't do a pose properly then you can't fully understand the pose. It seems there are a lot of people teaching "yoga" out there who do not have this qualification. And so I think you have to ask yourself if this is something you want to be contributing to.

While there are a plethora of yoga teachers out there, it's obviously demand creating this supply. And we are all creatures of free will so I think the ashtanga polizei are just concerned that you might be misreprsenting yourself to your students.

My first teacher was highly unqualified. I didn't know it at the time and even if I had I don't know if I would have minded. She was perfect for what I needed at the time. I got a lot of one on one attention and most importantly she introduced me to this practice. A few months into it I started to realize that I needed more than she could offer but I don't regret that she was teaching - or teaching me.

The big question of course is why shouldn't you be teaching yoga if you're not accomplished in the asanas you will be teaching?

So here's my take on it:

If you don't know how to do a pose properly (and I would argue you can't know if you can't do - book learning is no help here) then you shouldn't be teaching others how to do it. You're likely to teach them how to do something improperly and thus increase the risk of unnecessary injury.

And I think if you are teaching, you need to ask yourself:

For whose benefit are you teaching - your own because you enjoy it or others because you have experience to offer them. I should hope that it's both and not just the former. But that being said, perhaps not being able to bind marichyasana d on your own does not mean that you have nothing to offer. I think the key is just being honest with your students and yourself about where you can add value and where perhaps you should recommend they consult a more experienced teacher.

That being said, forgive us for being a hypercritical bunch of know-it-alls. It's a sort of initiation process I think you have to go through to prove your salt - earn your stripes - whatever. Ashtanga is our own little private club and we have to make sure you're worthy of entering ; ) And preserve its sanctity of course.

Beryl said...

Lauren you sound like a dedicated knowledgeable vinyasa teacher. The group at ez board can be pretty harsh. I think there is confusion regarding teaching yoga, as you are surely qualified to do, and teaching ashtanga---which is more of a challenge.

Where I practice, the main teacher is pregnant and not there as much lately.....but I show up at the same time every day and learn from the person she has chosen to sub for her.

It takes a while for a teacher to know your practice. If you think you are learning a lot now, imagine after showing up as much as you can for a month. Six months. A year. Two years.

Three days a week with Sarah, three days a week with Guy, ask THEM what they think. It is not like you are shooting people and voting republican (whoops) the days you are not there. Joke. Please just humor me as the Supreme court –and the laws of our land--gets changed.....

When I first started 4 years ago I went as much as I could. I jumped into ashtanga right away—6 days a week. Yet I could not go the same time every day. I would go sometimes in the afternoon, and if I couldn’t make it I would take a dreaded led class.

Keep showing up. Tell your teachers your practice schedule. Ask Mary Beth her thoughts.

And humble novice that I am, all I can tell you is: Keep practicing.

And keep writing your blog.


yoga chickie said...

Oh MY GOD!!! Kathy!!! I am honored!!! You're kind of my ashtanga-blogging hero! So, to see your name in print on my blog attached to such a mindful and well-written comment...well...I was quite jazzed! I am going to be waiting anxiously to hear everything about Mysore!!! I am counting the days with you...

To Beryl and Kathy, I am thinking about everything everyone is saying, and I am still trying to absorb it all and distill it all and work through it all. As to the splitting thing, right now, there simply are no other options than what I am doing now. It would be silly for me to self-practice on the days I can't make it to one shala because that's ME teaching ME. And we have already established that I am not my best choice of an Ashtanga teacher.

As to my teaching Ashtanga, one thing I can assure you of, my intention has been and continues to be merely to bring Ashtanga to students who would otherwise not have the chance to practice Ashtanga or who would not even know how to seek out the practice of Ashtanga (i.e. in a proper Mysore-style setting).

The people I teach at New York Yoga are taking yoga there because it is in their neigborhood - they are not willing to travel for yoga. Me, I have been traveling for yoga since my first class ever. But that's me. Most of the people I teach at NYY will never be interested in traveling outside their neigborhood for a yoga class. And most do not have the luxury (and boy is it a luxury) I have of not having a day-job (other than my part-time teaching schedule). But then, you never know.

What I hope for my students is that they WILL hunger for something more than what a led class can offer (whomever is teaching it) and go find themselves a Mysore-style place to practice. The DREAM is that New York Yoga will provide a Mysore style class six times a week with a Certified or Authorized teacher (hell, it's not THAT unrealistic - Govinda Kai did teach at NYY for quite a while).

I also hope for my students that they will commit themselves to a daily practice, or at least an almost-daily practice. But this is simply what I wish for them.

All I can do is offer them what I do know about the Ashtanga Primary series and about yoga in general, when there is no one more qualified in the room to do so....



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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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