Do-able Tasks.

A friend of mine recently posted a Facebook status about how to better keep your resolutions. In short, she suggested to break one huge task down into smaller, do-able tasks. So simple, but it was like that DUH lightbulb went off in my brain. So often we challenge ourselves with goals, resolutions, intentions—whatever you want to call them—and they are so massive that it becomes overwhelming and we eventually give up. 

When I was first learning to teach yoga I was overwhelmed by remembering an entire hour’s sequence—let alone a 75 or 90 minute class! I was so nervous I would leave something crucial out, mix up right and left, or just completely brain fart out and stand there like a deer in headlights in front of an entire roomful of people. 

My first few classes, I wrote down every single movement. I didn’t want to appear incompetent so I didn’t really look at my notes, but it was just nice to have them there as support or reference if I needed them. I would beat myself up if I left out a transition or mixed up the order I had arbitrarily set for my class, and just be so frustrated that I wasn’t at that place of teaching comfortably yet. I would watch seasoned teachers twirl into a room two minutes before class and ask people what they wanted to work on, and then come up with this brilliant sequence on the spot. I wanted to be at that place as an instructor so badly.

Eventually I learned how to learn. Things started to stick in my brain naturally in “chunks”. I’d remember all the open hip stuff, then the closed hip stuff, then what transitions worked well, what was easy to cue in and out of, and it all started to fall together and make sense. I started to branch out and teach really long and complex sequences, which now, looking back on it, was a little much. Simple is often so much better. 

I made this realization about myself, and maybe you can relate to it too. Oftentimes, as I start to get more comfortable with a process I have a tendency to make it more complicated than it really is because I think I subconsciously like to work in a state of frenetic energy that keeps me on my toes. In other words, I work better under pressure. When I start to become comfortable and there is no pressure, I have to create pressure for myself. This, as I’m realizing, is counterproductive. I begin to concentrate more on fancy transitions and less on what is going on in my student’s bodies. One of my goals in the practice of my teaching in 2015 is to really SEE my students. To stop making the practice that I offer about me. Every class does not need to be the most challenging, complex, and unique vinyasa sequence ever known to man. My goal is to be able to walk into a room, read my students’ energies and teach to that. To learn how to give people what they need rather than what they want or what I think they want. 

So this is a lofty goal and I am once again reminded that I must break it down into a do-able task. My first order of business is to simply ask people how they are feeling. To let go of my idea of what a “good” practice should look like. To notice the looks on people’s faces. To really watch body language. To hear, see, and feel my students. I love teaching yoga and I want my teaching to evolve to where I am not just offering a physical challenge, but rather being open and flexible enough to change my ideas and tailor them to the energy I feel in the room each day.

learning my lessons, one torn ligament at a time.

While attempting to transition out of this: image

Somehow this occurred: image

 

I fell ass over tea kettles, smacking the bejesus out of my knee, my foot, twisting my shoulder and tearing a ligament in my ankle.  As a former ballerina-turned yoga instructor, I like to think of myself as fairly agile and graceful, but this was not one of my finer moments. In fact for weeks I’ve been feeling run down, burnt out, and just plain fucking tired. I’m one of those people who has a hard time slowing down. To me a rest day means teaching a hot yoga class or two and maybe doing a 45 minutes of rowing intervals. Sprinkle in some TRX and Barre and you have a typical Thursday for me. I just love to move and I have a very hard time sitting still. The only thing that yoga ever asks us to do is to quiet the mind. It seems for me that the only time I can find that peace and quiet is on the move. I’ve heard of vinyasa classes being referred to as “moving meditation” and that is exactly how I feel. So knowing that the purpose of yoga is to quiet the chatter of the mind, as stated clearly in Patanjali’s first sutra–yoga chitta vritti nirodha–why can’t I use my vigorous yoga and other exercise classes as my meditation? Moving meditation is a real thing. It really does work for a lot of people, myself included. But as with anything, there’s that pesky little thing called moderation, and moderation has NEVER been my forte. If I do something, I do it 150 percent or I don’t do it at all. I have always been like this and it’s burned me over and over. There’s definitely a badass quality of not giving up and pushing through that I have going on, but to what extreme? When does it end? When I get hurt? Yep, usually that’s when it ends. Oprah once said, “Difficulties come when you don’t pay attention to life’s whispers. Life always whispers to you first, but if you ignore the whisper, sooner or later you’ll get a scream". Yesterday I was tired and my body was done, but I insisted on practicing that transition out of scorpion into a split leg handstand. Crash, bam, there goes my goddamn ankle. I share this story with you in hopes that you’ll take a note from me–listen to your intuition. When you’re tired, rest. When your body feels like crap, stop pushing. Allow yourself time to heal and recover. Allow yoga to work it’s magic by not pushing so hard that you forget the actual purpose. We’re here to clear our heads and make ourselves happier beings on this planet. It’s all fun and games until someone ends up on crutches. As one of my favorite yoga instructors loves to say, “we bring our shit to yoga and turn yoga into shit”. I hereby declare I will *try* to keep my shit out of yoga. Who’s with me?