Prayers for Yoga students and Yoga teachers

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It's a rainy fall sunday, not too cold but chilly enough for boots and leggings.   Leaves finally changing, vibrant red, orange, and yellow colors lining the streets as I drive toward the studio.  I unlock the studio door it's cold, quiet and still, but not for long.  Taking a full deep breath through my nose sucking in the air, letting it back out through my nose, I'm aware it's my job to make the magic.  With intention I set about making sure the incense is lit before class so the smell will greet my student's nose as soon as they step from the outside in.  Standing at the iPod I start searching to find music that is soft, not overly loud, inappropriately happy or sad, not poppy or new-agey, just right.  I've become overly aware of how the little things set the mood.  Sometimes I chuck the music all together preferring the silence of breathing to the distraction of music, but not today.  Today I find the right playlist.  The lights are another task.  I fiddle with them endlessly trying to find the place that is perfect.  Bright light is jolting, dim will make you sleepy, and it changes everyday, with the time of class and the season.

I go about my tasks, tiny rituals of lighting candles, incense, and adjusting music. These tasks have made up my days in some form for almost the last two years.  Silently I pray to myself hoping that I'll get it right for my students.  Whispering "let me find the right words today.  Let me feel the energy of the collective body of students, let me mold it into what they need.  Let me find the right message, please let me give them what they need." I pray that the right sequencing will move through me to my students, hoping that it will translate from the way I see it in my head to the way they feel it and experience it in their bodies.  Praying and lighting candles I wonder who will walk through my door for class.  Not long after I've settled the studio I smile as I see familiar students start streaming in.

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There are very few things that I could think of that would be more satisfying than teaching yoga.  As a matter of fact the only other thing I'd like to be doing myself right now would be taking a yoga class - a treat I'm rarely afforded.  Sunday's are "Power Flow".  I try to find the right balance of inward seeking and outward physical challenge.  I try to hit the right tempo, lulling students in softly, finding center, working up to crescendo, then slowly pulling back toward savasana until we're there.  Using the breath to keep tempo, molding the energy that was brought to class into a powerful personal experience, at least that's one of my hopes for them.  Most of all I hope that the experience I give them in the studio will leave them feeling better on the way out than they did on the way in.

While I teach today I remind myself that teaching yoga just like learning yoga, it takes practice.  Teaching is a practice.  As a teacher I'm evolving and hopefully becoming more of the teacher that my students need every day.  If you've taken a few yoga classes, you've bound to have heard the saying "We are all beginners".  For me it's certainly that way in teaching yoga too.  I want to be like the great teachers I've had.  The ones who demonstrate that teaching is a yoga practice in itself.  They taught me that it's a practice of being fully present with your students.  Watching what is happening in the students body, on their faces and learning how to read the students and the energy in the room.  The good teacher is the one learning how to say the right combination of words that helps the student go deeper or notice when their body is telling them to take a break and back off.  Becoming an advanced teacher is knowing when to offer the playful "harder" postures and knowing when to slow it down for everyone.  As a teacher I try to always teach with the mind of a beginner teacher because student or teacher I know we are all beginners.

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Today after the last student left and I tidy the props, swept the floor and finally locked up I remind myself it's just practice and there's always room for more practice.

Tuesday's Hat: Yoga Teacher

Do any of you practice Yoga?  It's a huge passion of mine, not just the asana (or physical poses), but also the meditation and lifestyle that is involved in yoga.  I'm so priverlaged to be able to teach it as well.  Honestly teaching yoga is one of my most favorite things to do.

I'm not sure that I enjoy much more than sharing yoga with people.  In fact I love it so much I get up very very early two days a week to teach a small group of early birds at Mind Body Fitness Yoga http://www.mindbodyfitnessyoga.com .  I wish more of my friends would come out to take this class from me, but I understand that the early time is hard for a lot of people sometimes it can be hard for me too.  Really it takes a special person to wake up early to do anything let alone yoga, but it's about the only time in my busy schedule that I can teach.

I think that a lot of people don't do yoga because they think that they aren't flexible enough or because they are worried they aren't good at it.  The funny thing is that Yoga is not about being good it's about practicing.  Increased flexibility comes with practice, strength comes with practice, deeper awareness comes with practice.  You have to get on the mat and practice to get better, but ultimately it doesn't matter.  Good or bad?  That doesn't really mean anything in yoga. It's about what you experience while you are practicing that matters.

This picture is me practicing fore-arm balance.  It's hard and if you look at this you can see my form is off.  I need to melt the heart and lift the legs up, not bend like a banana.   The point is I'm not perfect, I'm practicing.  One day I'll get it or I won't, but at least I practiced.

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But it's also ok to fall.

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It's really ok to fall and I think you get Karma points when you do.

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If you were afraid of falling all the time, you would never know what it felt like to get it right.  This head stand isn't perfect, but maybe some day it will be and for now at least I'm practicing.

Do you practice yoga?  Have you practiced yoga?  What do you like about it?  You  know, if you live in Greensboro I'd love to see you in my class Bright and early tuesday and thursday mornings!  We have a lot of fun, I play fun music and I'll tell you to breath, and listen to what is going on inside.  Yoga is fun and can do so much for you.   I'd love to share it with you and I promise it will set the tone for you to have a wonderful day.