Thursday, April 05, 2007
Yoga in California
I'm standing on a wood floor under a peaked two-story ceiling. Sunlight is pouring into the room through six high, curved, Spanish-Colonial windows. Five professional yoga teachers and I have our mats positioned like the petals of a daisy. We stand facing into the center of the daisy, brains frantically working to make sense of what our teacher has just shouted at us to do. We are meant to take turns leading each other in a mini prenatal class. As students, we pretend to be pregnant and have some pregnancy ailment. Our teacher, Stephanie Keach, rings a bell. I spring into action like a dithering turtle.
"Ok," I say, frowning over my photocopied chart of prenatal poses and their possible modifications and adjustments. "Uh, so, we all have high blood pressure, right?" My my five phony, pregnant, pre-eclampsic students nod. "OK, let's stand in tadasana." Then I get all Aunusara-yoga on their asses, and start asking them to scoop their tailbones and spiral their thighs inward. "Keep your butt fluffy, though," I add. A few students smile, a few wrinkle their brows. I lead them into Warrior I. They sink into their bent front legs, and raise their hands high overhead like goddesses. Then I go around, and one by one, manually turn their upper arms inward to broaden their shoulders, then grasp the sides of their ribs and muscle their upper bodies up out of their lower backs. One by one, they groan. These are good groans. Thank you groans. I feel a great rush of satisfaction. I lead them into triangle pose, then rush to each student to do other adjustments. The bell rings, and my eight minute teaching session is up. Everyone bends over a scrap of paper and scribbles out an evaluation of my teaching. Now it's time for the woman next to me to practice her stuff.
She only adjusts a few people at a time. Mentally, I slap my forehead. Duh. Rushing around trying to adjust each student is silly. This is what caused me such anxiety when I taught creative writing to seventh graders. Attending to one while the others wait causes everyone to be irritated. Especially if they are seven months pregnant and hanging out in downward-facing dog until the next instruction.
OK, good, so I'm learning about teaching. Here are some other things the faux p.g. "students" have to say about my teaching:
"Nice and gentle, very joyful spirit." "No overall structure." "Good, strong, confident touch." "Perhaps you could guide us into poses more." These comments all make me grin.
After class, I tuck my rolled mat under my arm and walk to Cantwell's market to see about dinner. This is Santa Barbara, so the deli offerings include quesadillas stuffed with roasted eggplant and fresh basil. (California has a way of turning any food into something totally wrong but delicious. BBQ chicken pizza started here, as did sushi rolls that appropriate mayonnaise and avocado.) I get the quesadilla, a carton of roasted vegetables, and a large bottle of Fat Tire Ale. I walk back to the little B&B cottage I'm lodging in for the weekend, spread my foodstuffs out on a wrought-iron table on the patio, and have myself a little party for one. I feel relieved to have completed my first official yoga teacher training. I feel relieved to be alone in the garden of blooming red bouganvilla and heady jasmine. Alone in the fading sunshine. Wearing only a t-shirt in March.
I miss the children with all my internal organs, but not my brain. My brain is enjoying all this space, this blue sky, this nothing to do. It doesn't matter that I've got a long way to go as a teacher. It doesn't matter that my clothing is strewn about the cottage and I have to get up really early to board a plane and I don't yet know where to catch the bus to the airport. I slip off my shoes under the table and feel the rough stone of the patio under my bare feet. What a lovely place. The potted tea rose on the table rests in a tiny, white tart dish. There is a bit of rust forming on the table. A nippy ocean breeze sweeps through the courtyard.
It's the most perfect moment.