From Christine - My first Newsletter
I am increasingly grateful for any and all voices and practices that remind us that the essence of life calling itself to be lived, often lies in the meeting of opposites.
For my first connection with you, I bring you this exquisite poem by Mark Nepo.
Inseparable by Mark Nepo
A small voice swept through the hole
in my heart, right there in the middle
of a day filled with the sweetness of
things outlasting our mistakes.
The voice led me to a thatch of
berries I had to eat, though the berries
were nested in a ring of thorns.
But this was the only food that
would heal. And everything I’d been
through, every path I’d tried, every love
I’d lost, every friendship I’d held onto like
a handle in a fire, every certainty that had
crumbled into doubt—all of it said,
“This is the only food.”
The small voice whispered, “There
is no other way but to bury your face and
eat of these berries. Of course, you’ll
scratch your cheeks. Of course, you’ll
bleed. But this is life.”
The berries nested in the thorns.
Inseparable as love nested in loss.
As peace nested in trouble.
Like God, waiting as a berry
to be eaten, all tangled
in the thorns.
Thank you, thank you for your questions. As in any realm, there is never a question that hasn’t been considered by another. My intention is to offer honest and open contemplation on your questions, including my own questioning; or as direct and clear a response as I can, so we may support each other on the path of practice, or teaching, or whole, engaged living.
For this newsletter, I have pulled this question, on teaching:
This month's question: "How do you stay in it when you feel like breaking up with teaching?"
If by “stay in it”, you mean how to keep showing up, remember that holding some space for people to breathe and move is nourishing and ample medicine. In the paradigm of a public class, it has never not been enough to invite people into their breath, to move them through simple shapes with plain language, and give them some quiet and rest before they move on with their day.
THIS IS ALWAYS ENOUGH.
Are you able to trace the patterns of discontentment or identify triggers?
One of my own is the fury of expectation.
Do you hold an expectation of yourself that each class has to be a profound and transformational experience? Or be the experience that your most admired teachers seem to offer so effortlessly?
When I had my third child, and by necessity had to pare my teaching schedule way down, I only taught up to two public classes a week. I put so much pressure on myself to deliver a perfect experience, that of course, I was constantly disappointed. Not to mention, in the drive for perfection, I was missing the conversation that is the trinity of teacher, student, and what the present moment is offering. (More on that another time, perhaps.)
So whether it’s because you’re fatigued, or having a tough week, in a period of questioning , or deep inner work, keeping it simple is your greatest ally. I REPEAT: Your students will always benefit from foundational shapes, some movement with breath and some quiet.
What is true for you?
Return to your own practice; to the truths of yoga for you. Get really personal with it again. Ask yourself , when I practice, what am I practicing ? One of my favourite definitions of yoga comes from the Anusara manual : “yoga is the scientific art of remembering our own true nature”.
What are you remembering through your practices? Return to the truth of your own experience, as a student of yoga, and subsequently serve from that source.
Choose a Focus
An approach that can help renew inspiration has been to choose a focus for a period of time. This can be in the realm of postures, breath practices, physical/anatomical focus, subtle body, philosophy, text or poem, etc etc.
For example, you may choose one pose that you will teach EVERY class for one month. This can initiate/revive curiosity for a particular shape, present opportunities for creative sequencing to and from the pose, give you a consistent point of focus, and sharpen your teaching skills in support of your student toward increased familiarity/dexterity with that shape. Or perhaps you commit to offering 5 minutes of silent meditation at the beginning and end of every class. Or you choose to work on the elements, chakras, or the 8 limbs of yoga , investing in one per class/week.
Inevitably the chosen focus will ground AND enliven your teaching; expand your toolbox, and enrich the practice for both you and your very lucky students.
Your force is with you.