Sunday, September 21, 2008

My philosophy and teaching style (part 7)

I was recently asked why I do yoga. What benefit does it bring me? Stumped for a while, I take the time to answer this yet another pertinent question here. Getting caught up in teaching and giving the best to my students, I sometimes forget how it all started, why I continue to do it, but mainly how it has changed me in so many, many aspects. After teaching for about 4 years, and a practicing yogi, I know yoga has never failed me. It was my support system when I was going through the toughest of times, and it was a celebration at the end of the dark tunnel, and still each practice is a joy for me. Regardless, yoga has been a discipline for me, through good times and bad. It showed me how to deal with the upsets of life, and how to remain humble in the turn of good fortune.

Recently I was coaching a friend through some crisis he was having, and it made me realise why I teach yoga. I love to help people. In my line of work, I meet people from all walks of life, and their life is basically etched to their mats, they bring they personal life, work, relationships, dreams, failures, fears and doubts all onto the mat, and I see it. Because psychology, psychosomatic responses and how we move, and to what extend we are willing to move, is all correlated believe it or not. When I see a particular case in need, I extend myself, and touch wood in all cases, my help is warmly welcomed. When I get my students to the mat, I encourage them to open up, to be receptive to emotions, to feelings, and to sensations. One of the worst things which have befallen mankind is we have forgotten how to feel, in fact, we refuse to feel, we rather numb it however way we can.

Thus, people become disconnected from their own bodies, when someone comes a knocking, no one's home, you get me? The lights are on, you may be physically awake, walking, talking, or moving, but who is doing it? Because no one's really at home. Presence. The word itself conveys a multitude of meanings. But let's not dive that far. You may be "doing" your yoga but your mind might be completely at the Bahamas, or at the next activity you are scheduled for. It takes effort, constant discipline and patience to bring your presence to your practice. When I say disconnected, I mean there are students who don't know where their hips are, or can't figure out which hand is the left and sometimes can't differentiate front or back, some don't even know where their shoulder blades are, especially when they are attempting to hold the pose. Then again, knowing me and my methods, holding the pose is not the point of yoga. Stillness is the goal. A certain amount of let go is necessary.

As I may have probably mentioned before is, I can see students mentally wandering off into oblivion, and those who are just there for the sake of being in class. Sometimes I feel like openly asking them "Do you really want to be here or not?". I'm serious about my work, and I in turn expect students to do likewise. Another note, please try to be on time for class, as walking in half way through class does not show respect to the teacher, or the other students who are concentrating, regardless of who is teaching and what group exercise class it is. Plus, it's distracting. Please, have some respect for yourself and others. That's all I'm saying, not a huge bolder I'm telling you to move right?

The only time I see students let go is probably during relaxation, I know those who are deeply relaxed, those trying to relax but not getting there, those thinking of trying to relax, and those who have found a point of equanimity between the body and the breath. They say that the breath is the bridge towards the inner body. I couldn't agree more. Which is why I focus so much on breathwork and tell you not to compromise the posture by holding the breath. Breath takes you deeper into a posture, opens up energy channels and connects you with your higher self. Did you ever wonder why psychologist/psychiatrists make you lie down instead of sit for their session of deconstructing the problem(s)? This is because when you lie down, we awaken a very primal, very animal instinct to be at ease, to be peaceful, not on defensive mode, thus making their work easier. I mean have you ever seen a sad hippo or a depressed giraffe? Didn't think so. Animals are happy. Happy because they have no ego, no higher intelligence to think and to be conniving in any way. They are their natural selves. They don't pretend to be something else. So I'm trying to say that when we lie down, our defense, our guard is naturally let down, it falls apart, it cannot be held up, there is no way.
You try it, lie down, then try to get angry, try it, try real hard. There is no way. The body and the mind are one. Your primal instincts are awakened to be your natural self. The same reason why if you ever made a complaint to a Customer service department before, like to a Hotel manager, the staff usher you to a comfy room, they get you to sit down first, because you become less angry and lose your defenses. So, don't sit down if you wanna win your case(that's a little tip from me).

That's all from me,
Lotsa of light and love, Namaste.

Michelle Q