Monday, January 23, 2012

Art of Assisting Day 2

views from the morning

When I first started practicing yoga, Dancer’s Pose was one of those poses that I could just barely do. I could feel that I was so close to getting it, but I wasn’t quite there yet. I knew that balance and confidence came with extended practice, so I used Dancer’s as a benchmark pose. I looked forward to it every class because I could actually feel myself getting more comfortable: kicking my leg out higher, standing on my one leg longer. It was invigorating.

My left leg was stronger than my right. When Brandon, my teacher, would walk near me and assist when I was on my good leg, I would shine proudly. But ~holy hell~ if he happened to be in my area of the room when I was on my other, I would quiver and fall just from the anxiety. Like sometimes I couldn’t even get myself up. It was so demented! hahaha Not long after I started giving so much importance to the pose, I started using it as a benchmark to compare myself to other student. I wanted to know how I was doing in comparison, you know? But, alas, when I did this too, I would get anxious and fall no matter what leg I was on. I thought “well shit, if I am looking at them, they MUST be looking at me, too.”
Aaaaaaand then I would fall.

I was stuck in this notion of perfectionism. Perfectionism turned to competition. And yoga turned into stress. Not only was this present on my mat, but in my life, too. I compared my performance at work, my weight, my appearance, my relationships to others.

This happens to so many students. I eventually acknowledged the cage I built around myself and started to work on it (yeah, that took a lot… it didn’t actually happen until I switched studios this summer).

As homework from day one, we were asked to think of what we were ready to give up.
I give up perfectionism, judgment, and insecurity.

The theme of day two is Reception. Well, I don’t know if that was the actual theme, but I made it the theme. Hahaha. We started the day with an amazing exercise. We partnered up and worked face to face with one student, never breaking eye contact. We went through our practice, mirroring each other and staring into the other’s eyes (I mean really looking…. ). Then we took turns being the “leader” and one would mimic what the other did in their practice. If I did downdog, she did downdog. Finally, we did this insanely intense variation where one person would perform their practice for the other, who would just stand in tadasana at the top of the mat and watch.

HOLY HELL. Just watching the beauty, individuality, and unity in another’s practice is tear jerking. You are watching the most raw form of self expression. That person in front of you is raw. And you are receiving an amazing gift to be allowed to watch that. You are the receiver

As an assistant, it is easy to think that you are fixing someone; that you are giving your tools and knowledge to make their practice perfect. But you aren’t. Oh My God, you aren’t. You are receiving a gift. As my partner put it: “Watching my partner was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. That little bead of sweat on her back made me cry. All of a sudden, that bead of sweat was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. Because it came from authenticity.”

My teacher Paige said: “ If you are not crying while watching this practice, you do not know how to receive.”

“hmmmm” I thought, I do not know how to receive. Well shit

It is a constant relationship to conversation. Giving and receiving, receiving and giving. You need both (OMG Always two there are, no more, no less. Eff yeah Star Wars)

Haha OK, so what did I do outside of training? Well not much. Training started early and went late. I was supposed to meet up with some college friends, but I couldn’t do it. I was tired. But really, I was too committed to this program. I couldnt cheat myself and stay up late and drink. I felt raw and new and I wanted to bask in that all night. I wanted to give and receive the next morning (you know, not give a receiving toilet my puke)

So I bought some cake, a bagel, Indian soup, and drank some wine. OBVIOUSLY. Durrrr. I was in bliss. 

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