Tuesday, May 4, 2010

5 things you may be telling your yoga teacher without saying a word

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One of the things I enjoy about teaching yoga is being able to watch people. Yes, as I look around the room I am checking alignment and making sure my directions were clear enough for everyone to follow, but I also notice other things, too. Here are five things you may be telling your yoga teacher, without saying anything.
  1. You take your yoga practice very, very seriously. As a newbie yoga teacher looking around at a class with angry-looking faces and set jaws, I'd agonize, thinking that everyone hated the class. I couldn't figure out why the students kept coming back. Then I thought back to a class I took when, while holding Warrior II, my teacher came over, tickled my cheek, and told me to smile. I was wasting lots of energy tensing muscles in my face. There is no yoga rule that you can't enjoy your practice. In fact, yoga can be downright fun. So relax those jaws, or your yoga teacher might start asking what the yogi told the pizza chef. *
  2. You hold all of your tension in your shoulders. Lots of people play Atlas, carrying their and everyone else's worries on their shoulders. Extreme cases are easy to spot. It will be the end of class before you can see their necks. Shoulder rolls look more like little shrugs than circles. There are more subtle signs as well. If you notice your shoulders creeping towards your ears every time you lift your arms away from your sides, your yoga teacher knows you have some de-stressing to do.
  3. You like to go, go, go. Some people find it difficult to slow down. Whether you are rushing to get through class and move on to the next thing, or just trying to avoid feeling what's going on in your body, the need for speed is pretty obvious, especially when you're circling your foot so fast it seems you are hoping to lift off like a helicopter.
  4. Your life has a soundtrack. Background music is a nice touch in yoga classes. Music can be very soothing, but not for everyone. There are people who have a song playing in their heads no matter what they're doing, and sometimes it leaks out. If the music really moves you, you might find yourself perfectly still in mountain pose, except your hand, which is drumming your leg to the beat of a Krishna Das chant. No KD on the teacher's iPod? Maybe your internal playlist is on repeat.
  5. You'd rather be anywhere but on your yoga mat. We all know yoga is the best thing you could be doing with your time. We also know that there are those rare days when you are on your mat only because you've committed to it. You can fake it, but the teacher can tell you aren't really present when you end up facing the wrong way in Virabhadrasana II. It's okay. Your teacher has days like that too.

* Make me one with everyone.
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