Wednesday, January 31, 2007

So you think you're doing better?

I am doing better. I am doing so much better that I am actually considering a professional commitment. In light of this consideration, I went to a prenatal yoga class with my friend Robin the other night to observe and pick the teacher's brain. When she started correcting my postures, I had an interesting new experience.

I say "interesting" because that is the nonjudgmental word I use to remark on a sudden emotional jumps in yoga practice. Such as, "Hmm, it's interesting that my teacher is asking us to stay in chatturanga for this long. It's interesting that I just thought of my teacher as a bitch." That kind of thing. It helps me not get mad at myself for having a response, so I can just have the response and then move on with my life. It also helps me not grasp at positive feelings, like, "I feel so strong and awesome right now! There are rays shooting out of my body! I can conquer the world!" So that has to fall under the category of "interesting," too. Whatever it is, it is temporary and I don't have to do anything about it.

Anyway, so I'm in this class with a bunch pregnant ladies. I'm there to observe them and the teacher. I'm doing a totally half-assed yoga practice while craning my neck to watch all the mamas do their pigeon-prep poses or what have you. And, to be honest, I am feeling arrogant. I mean, come on, with all the training I've been doing, this has got to be a piece of cake, right?

"Susie, is it?" says the teacher, coming across the wood floor toward me. I am on my mat with my shoulders and feet on the floor in bridge pose. She kneels down to grasp my ankles. "Move your feet more parallel and a little farther away from your hips," she says, manually placing my body into the correct position. I allow this, while thinking, "You can't tell me what to do! You're not my real teacher!" I lift my hips higher. I squeeze my butt really hard, which you just aren't supposed to do, to get my hips up really high, to prove that I know what I am doing. Then I feel icky. I think, wow, she must think I'm a total nimrod and probably shouldn't be a prenatal yoga instructor after all. Why do I think I could be a teacher? I'm not really that good…

Etcetera, etcetera.

I haven't worried much about how "good" I am for a very long time. I started yoga with the knowledge that I was uncoordinated and hopelessly high strung, and never thought too much about getting "good." And my big life practice over the past year has been to let go of measuring myself against other people at all. (A lifelong practice, but you have to start somewhere.)

Now that I'm in the process of becoming a teacher, of putting myself in a position to be judged, serious doubts are coming up. Do I really want to have to judge myself? Isn't this process against the whole reason why I practice yoga?

Maybe. I guess I will find out. In the meantime, what if I could really encourage an open heart toward myself? My practice is, if nothing else, totally sincere, and I do believe I've had incredible training from my beloved teacher. Can I remember that I want to teach yoga to pregnant ladies for the same reason I lead new parent support groups? That it's not about being an expert, but being a good shepherd and a supportive presence? Can I continue to retrain my brain this way, and really cultivate fearlessness?

Hell, maybe if I can learn that a little more, I can go off drugs. Wouldn't life really be an adventure then?


Anonymous said...

Hey Susie! :) My minister who is also a counselor, suggested another way of thinking about this very subject yesterday and given your post, I thought I'd share. She said that when one is out of crisis and things are going well is the best time to make quick progress in counseling. Fussy baby so I can't say more but can fill you in if you want next time we talk...-V

susie said...

Thanks, Vicki! That sounds brilliant and smart, rather than rash and foolhardy, which is my typical path. Tell me more! Maybe my readers would like to know, too.