Photo: Oscar Wilde
This post is not connected at all with Oscar Wilde’s book, I won’t tell the story.
The only common point connected to is that the protagonist named as Erneast, maintain fictitious personae to escape burdensome social obligations.
As well the word “Erneast” means “honest” and the name “Ernest” means “truthful”. This morning after my practice that thought came to my mind.
Since December my practice has drastically changed. I can not do any backbend, my left shoulder has been completely frozen and my spine was not in the mood of being flexible anymore. The simple action of rising the arms up was painful.
However even thought each morning I was cursing my practice I did not stop. I was practicing whatever I could at the best of my actual capacity. I won’t define theses past practices as the best of my life but at least I was on my mat with a stiff body.
Last week I did not listen my body at all. While doing Kukutasana I was unstable but I did not stop. I was fighting like nothing against my will, thinking “you have bee doing this asana for so long, just lift up everything will be fine”. I was not ready to surrender, I did not want to loose one more asana in my practice.
I was already loosing all my backbends it was out of question for me to give up on this one. I could not understand and most of it did not want to analyse why I was so heavy on my mat, how comes after all dedication I am giving to my practice I was stepping back? As a result of it I fell pretty bad on the floor, smashing my left side and opening my eyebrow so bad that I had to rush to the hospital in order to receive 2 stitches.
Since then my eye has closed on the first day, on the second day it opened but became red, the third day it changed to red and black, fourth day blue and dark, fifth day yellow and blue. As of today it is getting better, the wound does not want to heal but that is another story. I am alive.
On the 3rd day I came to my practice.
Between my daily appointment to the hospital to clean and change my plaster and in where I learn that life can be really short, the only thing that keep me moving on was my practice. Of course I had to adapt it because body pain and now the oldest fear of falling came back to my mind each time I am practicing Kukutasana or even Kakasana.
But still I am practicing. Then today magic happened, a week after my “accident” I had a very powerful practice. For an unknown reason my spine accepted to fold in both direction, I was not able to control my fear of falling so I did not do any drop back but still I was able to do the most beautiful backbends I ever done since the last 6 weeks. Basically I was flying on my mat. I got back the practice I had last November.
Then I understand the importance of being honest and constant.
That is not the Asthanga Yoga practice that is difficult neither a Hatha Yoga practice. Hatha Yoga has created the Ashtanga, however what is the most difficult thing is to continue to practice and to stick to it whatever is happening. Take time to unfold our mat every day of our life.
Since I was a kid I always did sport, swimming for a long time, dance class. I never ever stopped any physical activity. I know at one point of my life it was my path, I wanted to teach the aerobic classes in the fitness center I was practicing daily after my work, it was my dream! 10 years ago I changed my corporate life to become a Pilates Instructor first and then a Yoga Teacher. The very first thing I did was to schedule myself at least 30 minutes minimum per day a practice on my own, whatever it was, Pilates, Yoga, Feldenkrais, Gyro.
When I was teaching 25 hours per week in Paris I was still practicing, as soon as I had a gap between two classes I was going onto the Reformer. I was rehearsing my Yoga class before teaching it. Then one day I start to wake up early morning and practice right before starting my day. Since then I never stopped. I understood how much it was important as a teacher to be able to practice what we will be teaching. This is our main priority.
Picasso was a great painter but it would not have achieve what he has done without practicing sketching. Kino MacGregor will not be what she is right now if she was just lying on our couch all day long. Can a surfer be a real surfer without any practice? Can someone speaking only three words in French be define as a French teacher? When we start a new corporate job it takes time to get familiar with the new network. In order to masteries something we need to do it again and again. It has to become repetitive in order to be able to reproduce it. When we learn how to drive at the beginning we are completely lost then after a couple of weeks we are able to use the clutch, change the speed and turn the wheel at the same time.
So when it is all about Yoga why there are some exceptions? Because it is a spiritual practice and people get amazed or impressed after chanting three OM there is not need to practice it as a teacher? On several occasion I have read or listen teachers saying “the last time I practiced daily was during my yoga teacher training course”…..
One day of a Facebook group there was one teacher saying that he did not have any practice of the Sun Salutation at all, then after asking him what he was practicing he replied that the last time he had an asana practice was probably the last 3 months.
This is what I called the double life of yoga teacher. Do not choose that path unless you want to commit to it.
Take another path where your body and your mind will not be put to the test by discovering who you are deeply inside. As well for the pranayama classes. Before teaching any pranayama it has to be practiced on a regular manner.
As a teacher you can not teach inner and outer retention on the very first class.
To teach it you should have regular students, the practice has to be taught step by step, do not jump into an advanced practice just because you want people to feel that they do not know how to breath. And as a teacher you should be regular with your pranayama as well you are with your asana practice. If necessary you can use notes during your class (I am not a huge fan of it), but these notes should be there just to help you to respect a particular order you want to follow during your class.
These notes should not be “cheating” notes where you will describe what is a pranayama, the name of it, the asana sequence you want to teach.
As a teacher your job is to translate what you have been preparing way before your class started. You should not practice with your students, how can you adjust them if you are in the asana as well? If we take the decision of teaching Yoga, Pilates, Gyrokineis, Feldenkrais or any others physical activities it is really important and necessary to know what you are talking about.
Do not lie to your students, do not become a fake teacher. If at all you want to teach an asana class you should “feel” it before and know it by heart. Students trust teacher and we should not play with them. I believe as a teacher we do have a responsibility toward our students and not considering them only as customers.
A lot of students are not able to know if the teacher is good or not, some teachers to install their “authority” will just show one balancing difficult asana because they have the ability of doing it but that does not mean they are practitioners.
And most of the time the human being is what it is, his point of reference is the external thing so when a student see a so call teacher doing one balancing pose he thinks “wow this teacher is so good!”. That is very unfortunate but that is true.
As a student there are some things that you can detect about your teacher, see the mobility of his/her spine. Because if your teacher is not capable to keep his spine aligned or to twist then you will have a nice clue about his/her practice. I am not talking about the flexibility but about being graceful on the mat, if the movement is done with an effort and no breathing then you have your answer, your teacher is not practicing.
The double life of a teacher, the mask in front of the students “do what I teach” and the other one, lying on the couch until the next class.
If you want to teach something then be honest with yourself and with your futur students. Practice what you teach, do not fake it. Show the example to your students, be regular and have a good healthy life.