Energy level is a funny thing. It is in a constant state of fluctuation. Three days ago I was in the highest outburst of energy, being on my day offs and being home was killing me. It was like thousands of little energetic soldier ants ready to March. And I did the most amazing, the most ass whooping practice.
Today I feel out of place, grumpy, tired, and generally like a total tit. While practicing was okay, teaching an active class was a little rough – I didn’t feel like socialising at all.
So how do one keep practicing the same thing, same sequence, same manner everyday? While I definitely agree that as a yogi we do need to practice everyday but I am an advocate of practicing what feels right to do on the day. As a teacher what I think we can never encourage enough is for students to listen to their bodies. Not in the quoting the book “listening to your body and its limitation” way. But listen, and find the little clues that will inform you how you actually feel today sort of way. As modern humans, we typically spend a lot of time “upstairs” in our “attic”. And the side effect of spending too much time upstairs is that it is difficult to know what’s happening on the ground floor. And the more activity, the more impressions we feed ourselves and our students, the harder it becomes to connect to the ground floor.
As teachers, as much as giving instructions and information is important, it is just as important to back off. Sometimes our giving space, our feeding a question, a few moments of pauses in the hottest, spiciest of vinyasa flows is what is going to help our students feel, what helps them from going too far, from going into injuries. I went to one of my colleagues classes last year and I remember so very distinctly that she started the class with: I want you to take the responsibility of taking care of your body. That she was there to guide and it is the students responsibility to decide and to communicate with their bodies in their practice.
We all have had injury discussions with our students, I’ve had students coming to me a week after class telling me she felt bad in her knee after the last class. We have had one way or the other tried to give modification, tried to give suggestions to see if we can help. I’ve had student coming to me and told me about their injuries before class and asked me to keep an eye on them and tell them if it was dangerous in some poses.
It is all fine and perfect but what we also need to understand is, teachers should not, and simply can not take the responsibility away from the students. It is the student who are in their skins and feel their sensations. It is the student who has the best shot of getting all the hints and making the most informed decision. It is the student’s practice, it is the student’s yoga.
The moment we stop treating this practice like a mimicking monkey exercise and take it internally; the moment we start understanding this practice as an internal exploration; only then, and at that very precise moment, are we putting the yoga into our yoga practice.