Yesterday was apparently Epiphany Tuesday. Thunderous awakenings walking the dogs in The Fruit and Nut district of Fairhope! Cracks of light in the tunnel of “What is my dharma?”
After class yesterday Teddy asked me an alignment question about the placement of the feet in Tadasana. I teach hip-width apart, his other teacher teaches big toes touching. Which is correct? My first answer is this (culled from writings of other great yoga teachers)…there are many different paths to get us to the ‘connection’ (of body, mind, spirit, heart) that is the promise of yoga. Different asana systems teach different alignment principles. Different world-views and rituals carpet the world of Yoga, yet all lead us to the same union. I personally have found that Anusara Yoga is a wonderful system for me and I am passionate about teaching its method and specific alignment principles. I also absolutely honor all other teachers’ paths and methods of teaching. I admit, I have been that student/teacher in the past who has thought that my path was superior. But as my path bends and curves, and I continue to grow and mature I understand that all of our paths are fated by our uniquely personal moment-to-moment experiences and choices. There is no hierarchy in this process.
Judith Lasater has had profound influence on my journey as a yogi and teacher of asana. She states that as teachers we must have a clear understanding of our intentions of WHY we are teaching. So for a long time I have pondered, “What is my intention as a yoga teacher?” My intentions have always been good…to help people get healthier, to help people cultivate focus and concentration, to share the good news of yoga, to help people find their best self, to connect people to their breath, to remind everyone that our essence is absolute goodness, peace, joy, and love. Last weekend in Teacher Training we talked about “The Path of The Teacher” and how our teachings of yoga are an expression of our personal practices of yoga which are essentially an expression of the way we live. So maybe my intention has shifted over the years as my practice has evolved and I have grown older.
Cut-to applying yoga practice and teaching to: life, family, work, errands, finances, etc…These past few weeks I feel continually faced with situations that either ‘rub’ or have had the makings for a reaction. It is my tendency to react rather than to simply absorb the moment, process it with breath, and then respond compassionately. That tendency has, of late, been thankfully quiet. Maybe it is because fiery reactionariness (new word!) takes too much energy and I am running low, or maybe it IS all of the sitting meditation, or maybe it is simply Divinity. Whatever it is I am so thankful.
As a teacher I honor that yoga students will choose the asana path that resonates most with them. My feelings do not get hurt when a friend or student decides she likes another teacher’s style more than mine. Yoga teaching is an artistic expression of a distillation of all that we have sifted, studied, and practiced from the great ocean of yogic literature through the ages. Let us celebrate the many flavors of Hatha yoga!
The world isn’t all Yoga teachers and students either, right? But I do think everyone is on a Path that is determined by our unique experiences and choices. And I think that we simply must honor every person’s path, whether we agree with their actions, or not. We certainly should not and do not have to ‘go along’ with everything a person on a different path is doing, but we must honor the freedom of all beings and celebrate with gratitude and responsibility that freedom in ourselves. So my intention has simply become NAMASTE. I honor you. I may not agree with you, or accompany you, or promote your path, or practice your yoga, but I HONOR YOU—quietly, non-judgmentally, whole-heartedly. This is my intention. My teacher. My teaching. My practice. My path. Thank you Lord!
My second answer is stand well and with dignity. Whatever that means to you. Namaste!