Monday, January 18, 2010

When Life Gives You Liz Lemons

Tonight’s class was just peachy. There are two visiting instructors to our studio, both of them former yoga champions. Or finalists. Or something. Anyway, they rock—as teachers and, obviously, as practitioners. Sometimes, one will practice with us. Admittedly, if I fall out of standing bow or head-to-knee a little early I will sneak a peek at their picture-perfect postures.

As a teacher, this particular chica has just got it down. Great balance between motivating individuals and sticking to dialogue. She is disciplined about allowing the full 20-second savasana between the postures, so I always feel nice ‘n ready for the second set.

The other fun thing was that the entire girls’ tennis team from some high school showed up. As a result, the late afternoon class, which usually has about 15 people, was totally packed with giggling teenaged girls poking fun at each other when they realized, again and again, how hard it was. Although I had groaned inwardly upon seeing the vibrant youngsters crowd the lockers, their silliness wasn’t irritating—there was just this fun energy in the room. The teacher harnessed it well and hammed it up for half-locust: “good for tennis elbows!”

OK, so, you yogi vets, think back to the time when you started practicing up front. Remember the doubts—“Am I ready to stare at myself so closely for 90 minutes? What if students think I think I'm some sort of model yogi? Am I ready for the possibility that other students will be looking at my ass?"
Talking to a Bikram vet helped me get over myself. She reminded me that we are there to meditate on ourselves and not other students, so of course it’s OK if I’m in the front. Even if I fall out of standing-head-to-knee sometimes.

I also think that the goal is less the execution of the postures and more focus, more… the ability to be still. That’s been the priority for me since I came back to yoga. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I’m really proud of myself that I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not fidgety anymore, especially between the postures. Admittedly, I wipe sweat before the forward bending poses, and I usually sneak a drink of water before triangle and fixed firm. It’s all a gentle unfolding, right?

Anyway, I’ve given myself permission to stand in the front lately, and I love it. I’m curious about what others think about practicing in the front. Anyone have to fight the, “I don’t want anyone to think I’m an arrogant SOB” feeling?
For no particular reason, please enjoy this picture of Liz Lemon/Tina Fey. She is my TV alter ego and I find her dorky self-deprecation quite amusing.

"Why do you sound surprised? I love America. Just because I think gay dudes should be allowed to adopt kids and we should all have hybrid cars doesn't mean I don't love America."


thedancingj said...

I heart Liz Lemon!!

You SO don't need to be perfect to stand up front. You just need to know the postures well enough for the new peeps to be able to follow you! And SOMEONE'S gotta get up there, so the people who still feel more comfortable in the back will be grateful to you for doing that service to the class! Honestly, apart from new people checking to see if they're doing the right thing, no one's really gonna worry about you. And if you fall out of postures, that's GREAT - shows the new people that it's fine to fall out and get back in!! (I am ALWAYS demonstrating how to fall out of stuff - haha.)

Sisya said...

At our studio, anybody who's willing to put forth some focus and effort is welcome in the front row, although newbies are usually steered toward the back rows, in order to observe others.
We have one regular who always takes a spot in the front row and almost always ends up spending a great deal of the class in savasana. Teachers have joked, commented, and scolded her, telling her that she shouldn't get in front if she's going to give up, but it doesn't seem to change much.
I still feel a little shy about it myself, but maybe I ought to step up to the front row more often.

Yolk E said...

Tina Fey is the goddess. I love 30 Rock!

Thanks for the support and insights. Interesting about the student who skips lots of poses. No judgment, I suppose--maybe there's a reason, like bad eyesight or something. (In fact, bad eyesight was what got me up there. I had to give the contacts a rest and I just couldn't see a damn thing without being way in the front.)

Johan said...

That's it exactly I just had to move to the front to see myself in the mirror so it wasn't something I spent any time thinking about.
"What if students think I think I'm some sort of model yogi?" - But you are! You've got a regular practice and you care deeply about your yoga, what better model could there be?

J, I've now got a picture of you deliberately folding your standing knee and tumbling straight down in standing bow just to show them. Hilarious.

bikramyogachick said...

My friend Reggi dragged me to the front row about a year and a half ago. I was a second row lurker who thought you had to "get permission" to go up there to the front. I really looked up to all of the rockstar yogis in the front! I was scared to go up there and kept telling her I wasn't "good enough" to be up there yet. She just poo poohed me and made me put her mat by hers. Now I love it up there. I don't feel pressure to "perform" but I am always mindful that I can affect the energy of those behind me, so I try not to fidget and I really try not to take a knee in the standing series. I also try to ease gracefully back into bow when I fall out (as I always do!) and not make any distracting quick moves. The proximity to the mirror really helps with balance! It's awesome!

Yolk E said...

You're totally right with the balance thing, BYC! It does improve with being closer. Sadly, I also know what you mean by "need to get permission."

Thanks for the support, Johan! I know--it's not about the depth or expression of the posture as long as you're working it to the best of your ability.