Posted by terrepruitt on May 2, 2016
Recently I attended a yoga class just to observe. Sometimes just observing is difficult because the desire to get up and participate is often there. But I thought this class was beyond my level of doing. I like slow mindful classes. I am not a fan of the speed of a flow class. I also know this teacher to be a bit of a tough cookie. And I have come to the studio AFTER this class – in the past – and the participants are just dripping and wobbly legged, so I had never thought to participate before. So . . . I thought that observing would be a piece of cake. There would be no desire to jump to participate. Now, let me explain this “observing,” it is for me to become a better teacher. I am not there to judge or criticize the students nor the teacher. But I am there to gain knowledge. Observe how one sequences a class. To observe how assistance is given. To observe the yoga teacher’s pacing and volume. To learn by observing. I have three separate papers for three separate types of notes. I have POSES, for poses I want to either do myself or bring to my classes. I have Cues and Things I want to bring to my classes. And I have just notes that I will refer back to. While I was doing my best to listen and look without staring at the participants I got a little misty eyed. My breath caught in my throat and I thought, “Damn! Bodies are beautiful!”
You probably know I have a tendency to ramble on and on when all I really wanted to tell you is – if you want to learn yoga stop staring at the Yoga Journal, stop looking at models on websites – GO TO A CLASS TO OBSERVE!!!!! Look at REAL people DOING yoga. Look at REAL bodies doing yoga. Just watch, just observe, don’t judge. We do this in Nia all the time, we call it witnessing. We “witness” without judgment. So just go to a class and witness. Appreciate what you see. Notice the strength. Notice the weakness. Notice the flexibility. Notice the stiffness. Notice the intention. Notice the determination. Notice the frustration. Notice the effort. Notice the triumphs. Notice the concentration. Notice the distraction. Notice the trying. Notice it all!
I was struck by it all when I looked up and saw someone in a pose perfectly. I thought, “Dang. I will glance back over throughout the class because that is awesome and I want to see more of that.” Then I looked back a few poses later and I thought the person had moved spots because what I saw was misery. The person could barely get into the pose. And the next person was Yoga Journal perfect whereas they couldn’t do the previous pose. A few of the people I noticed in pose “perfection” in one pose were in the total opposite of perfection in other poses. The class was full of perfect poses and not perfect poses . . . all at different times by the same and by different people. And I wanted to jump up and join in!
This was not a beginner class, it was a class of real people doing yoga in real bodies. Some bodies whose arms are not long enough to hold the foot when the leg is extended. Some bodies whose hamstrings are too tight or too short to do a straight legged fold. Some bodies whose bones or bodies get in the way. Bodies that come to class and do real yoga.
The models in the magazine and on the websites more-than-likely were chosen to do that particular pose because they can. Their limbs are just the right length to do the poses. Could also be that the model only did that one pose or was put into that pose whereas in a yoga class there is a sequence and it could be that by the time you get half way through your muscles are tired and so the poses might not be picture perfect. Yoga is a practice not a photo.
So, while there are correct and more importantly SAFE ways to do the asana try not to get caught up in doing it “perfect” or doing it exactly like someone in a magazine. Do what you can and keep practicing. Remember to breath.