Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trusting Myself, Part 1

Kripalu CenterImage via WikipediaI came home after five days at Kripalu feeling like my mind was a ping pong ball, bouncing between the mundane challenges of teaching yoga (and life in general) and the contemplation of some inner wisdom that surfaced during my stay. All week I have been torn between wanting to put some new teaching skills to work and the desire find a lonely mountaintop where I can just sit and think.

In the end, teaching won out (of course), and cold rain dampened my mountain climbing desire. I did manage to find enough quiet time to wrangle the stampeding thoughts about my trip enough to be able to share some of them.

I participated in two workshops while I was at Kripalu, Nourishing the Teacher, taught by Danny Arguetty and Anjali Budreski, and Seane Corn's Empower Flow Yoga. The former was intended to benefit my students, the latter was meant to be fun for me. But what does yoga teach us about expectations?

Yeah, a funny thing happened on the way to Kripalu ...

About a week before my trip I was planning to call and cancel. My father suffered a "cardiac event" and was going to need open-heart surgery very soon. He had an appointment with the cardiac surgeon during my planned time away, and I didn't want to be two hours from home if the surgeon deemed emergency surgery necessary. My mother pointed out that they wouldn't have waited a week if it was truly an emergency, and insisted I go.

In the days before I left, I was faced with some new issues regarding my son's SPD, a conflict popped up at the church for one day when I have classes scheduled, and I had a mountain of housework to catch up on. It wasn't until I arrived at Kripalu and found my way to the afternoon yoga class that I realized how much stress I was holding in my body.

That yoga class was the first class in six months I'd been able to take from another teacher. As I settled into the asanas I was very grateful to be able to be the student, just being on the mat without thinking three or four poses ahead. I explored all the tight spots in my body and became very aware of how much my mind was chattering. Savasana was very challenging. I think I'd forgotten how to do it!

The Nourishing the Teacher workshop started the first evening. I instantly loved Danny and Anjali. While I appreciated how knowledgeable both were, it was their openness and generous spirits that drew me in. Then they threw in some chanting and I was very, very glad I hadn't canceled.

My only problem with the workshop didn't have anything to do with the teachers and had everything to do with me. I couldn't get my head around the actual teaching part. I thoroughly enjoyed the yoga classes they offered us, including a restorative class which released a headache I'd been nursing for almost a week, but couldn't work my way back into the teacher mode. I felt like I had no creativity left, I was nervous talking in front of the other participants, and I fought back tears every time we had to do an exercise. I wanted to be perfect, and when I was critiqued it hurt deeply. I was experiencing self-doubt like I hadn't felt since the very first night of yoga teacher training.

500 hours of teacher training and two years of teaching, down the drain.

On the final morning I declined to do the last practice teach and instead cried through the classes presented by others. As the emotions welled up and spilled out, I settled back into myself. When the last workshop session ended I regrouped and joined the Kripalu vigorous vinyasa class because Danny was teaching it. I had a great practice and really felt present. Later that afternoon I took a gentle yoga class which left me feeling very peaceful.

Nourishing the Teacher lived up to it's name, not because I came away feeling like a better teacher, but because it truly nourished me, the scared and overwhelmed yogini, when I needed it most. I am very grateful to Danny and Anjali for creating space where I could be nurtured and retreat. And I trust that my experience was as it was meant to be, with no disappointment or regret.

That evening Seane Corn's workshop started, the one that was supposed to be fun for me. And that is a whole other story...
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