Over the past few months, I have been listening to The Ashtanga Dispatch Podcast, hosted by Peg Mulqueen. It talks a lot about the practice of Ashtanga Yoga with interviews with different Ashtanga Yoga teachers. I recently listened to the episode with Greg Nardi and it was fantastic. In fact, after hearing him on the podcast, I looked up his workshop schedule and am planning to practice with him in July.
In the podcast. Greg says lots of really inspiring things. I was so inspired that I was taking notes while listening because I didn't want to forget what I heard! He really opens up about his experience with the practice and his honesty is so beautiful. Seriously, please just listen for yourself. I promise it's worth the listen!
My favorite quote is when he says:
When you are teaching yoga, you have to teach the students the next step, not your next step. Support the students journey without rushing the process.
Don't rush the process.
Why are we always trying to rush the process? Why are we always trying to skip the struggle?
We rush our own success, and as teachers, we sometimes rush the success of our students, too.
As a teacher, this is something that I definitely struggle with; allowing my students to take their time. More specifically, the practice of patience is something that I struggle with. For me, I think that I can show people a better way. Show them the step after the struggle, but really, the struggling step is sometimes more important than the one after.
Listening to this podcast reminded me about things that have happened in my own journey and made me remember how far I have come as a teacher and as a student.
A few years ago, early on in my teaching experience, I was taking class with one of my favorite teachers. She is older than me, wiser than me, has much more experience than me with both teaching and practicing yoga, is one of my teaching mentors, and is now one of my good friends today. Needless to say, I have endless amounts of respect for this teacher.
At this time in my practice, I had a huge ego. I can only say this now because it's obvious to see when I think back to the cocky attitude I once had. I must have been an annoying student. I really thought I knew it all. I practiced dead center in the front of the room, rushed through poses when I thought I knew what was coming next (I did this because I thought I was "setting an example" for the rest of the class), and skipped over poses that I didn't feel like doing.
During one particular class with this teacher, she was teaching an inversion, either headstand or forearm stand. It's hard to remember, and honestly, it's probably irrelevant. All I know is whatever pose was being taught, it was a challenging one, and a lot of students were struggling with it.
This class was at a studio that I also taught at, so the room was full of students who were also my students. At one point when we were asked to practice the pose independently, a student from the row behind me called to me and asked if I could help her with the pose. Naturally, I said that I would and walked over to help her. I eventually made it back to my mat when it was time to continue with class and my teacher approached me. She said, "Julia, when you are in class, you are a student, not a teacher. Please stay on your own mat."
I didn't even know how to react. At first, my feelings were hurt. My ego was shot down. How could she expect me to not assist this student? She is my student, too! How was I supposed to say no?
After class, my teacher approached me again and apologized for what she said in class, but she said it was important that she said something because what I did is one of her pet peeves. She doesn't like it when teachers try to be teachers during class when it's really their time to be students. She said it's important to remember that we have to be students, too; that we have to find a way to turn off our teacher brain. That we have to respect the teacher who is teaching and do our best to not interfere with their plan.
Then she said something that has stuck with me ever since she said it:
Sometimes you just have to let the train crash.
She said, "Julia, your students have to learn the pose on their own time. You can't rush their learning process. Keep them safe, but allow them to struggle."
Like I said, she is much wiser than me.
When you think about your life, what do you remember? Do you remember the struggles you have faced? Do you remember the lessons you have learned from your struggles? Are you learning lessons from your struggles?
Let the train crash. Let your train crash. Let your students train crash. Let your friends train crash.
When I practice yoga with my Ashtanga teacher, she always says, "each pose has a lesson to be learned. Are you ready to learn the lesson?"
Sometimes we're not ready.
Practice patience with yourself and with others. I promise, you'll be rewarded.
Let the train crash, my friends. Let it crash.