Being a Good Student
When teaching teacher training, I often suggest to people that it is important to be a good student. Being a good student means staying in learning mode. Being on the road means that I take classes with teachers and at studios that are unknown to me. So far, I have taken a “Foundation” class by a Jivamukti trained teacher, an Anusara class, and a Mysore practice. Each teacher was excellent and had many things to teach me. Being a good student means respecting the teacher in front of you. It could be a yoga teacher, a person you pass on the street, your kids, your spouse, your friend, your dog, well you get the idea. Being a good student means that you are in the present moment and willing to receive information.
Receiving vs. Transmitting Mode
I have spoken of this idea in the past. I think it is an important concept because you can’t do both. You need to be in one or the other state. You know when someone is talking to you and rather than actually listening to them you are thinking about what you are going to say next? We all do this. This is the collision between these two modes. Neither can be effective. In order to learn anything, you must be in receiving mode. It is simply not possible to absorb information and transmit it at the same time.
When I go into another teacher’s class, I do my best to shift into learning mode. In Anusara you do not connect the feet when you step to the top of your mat. Now, I could be stubborn and connect my feet every time because that is the way I think is right. So why take the class? How would it hurt for me to leave my feet apart? I do what the teacher says and experience the practice that way unless I feel that I will injure myself. That is where I draw the line. I think some of us are more concerned with our egos getting injured, or at the least a breach in our concept of right and wrong, black and white. I have nothing to prove to other teachers. In fact, I believe I would undermine the teacher by just doing the things the way I think is right. That is disrespectful and ego based. Allowing a teacher to teach you something does not take power away from you. Telling someone something positive does not shift power from you to them. I believe on some level that is the fear many of us have. Allowing a teacher to teach you is in many ways a compliment to them. You are saying that you trust their judgement and you respect their ideas.
Take it Back!
I went to Mysore practice this morning with an excellent teacher named John. He asked me if I had practiced Astanga before and I said yes. He asked where I normally got to. Now in the Mysore tradition the teacher would stop a student at the point in the practice where they couldn’t do the pose to the full expression. Here is what I said, “Oh I do primary and second.” As soon as it came out of my mouth, I wanted to take it back. I know both series but that doesn’t mean I can do all the postures fully. I can’t put my foot behind my head for example. I humbly added, “I will just do Primary.” What I wanted to say was, feel free to stop me at the point you feel I should. Point is, I have a lot to learn even though I have practiced Astanga yoga on and off for 12 years. I was there to learn something not to prove some point.
Moving Out of Our Comfort Zone
Being learning mode means that you are not always comfortable. It is infinately easier to stay with what you know. Learning new things involves risk and possibly making a fool of yourself. I will continue to learn from other yoga teachers, speak spanish even though I say many things wrong, navigate on our trip even though we keep getting lost, well, again, you get the idea. Moving out of my comfort zone means my life is never boring! I wish you all lots of experiences for learning and growth and excitement in the coming year.
From the road, Peace, mimi