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Giant demon baby: lurking outside Melbourne's town hall

So I want to tell you about teaching last night, but I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging.

I’m not.

I don’t think these things are so much about me, as a reflection of all of the wonderful teachings I’ve been fortunate enough to receive and pass on.

But I want to share what happened because so far in my still very early-days career as a yoga teacher, I’ve noticed that feedback from students – good or bad – doesn’t come around that often.

I mean, I’ve also noticed that as a student I too, do this lack of feedback thing. I go to classes that I love but I rarely share with my teacher how much I enjoy the class. Sure, I say “thank you” and smile and come back again and again. But as for implicit feedback that lets the teacher know what I’m getting out of the class? That’s not something I do very much.

And it’s a weird thing, being a new yoga teacher like me and sharing the teachings and… not really getting any information back from students. I get it, though. I mean, when a yoga class works for you, it creates a fairly internal experience. Really, it can be hard to share when you’re in that sort of space.

Then some days out of the blue and maybe after weeks or months, feedback arrives and it’s pretty WOW.

Like last night.

With downward dog/mountain pose, I like to observe how my beginner students fare before getting into sequences that use it a lot. Because while it looks like a really simple pose, there’s quite a lot going on!

I find there’s always a huge variance in how people interpret my initial instructions. Of course, there’s a bunch of reasons for that – body awareness, stiffness, injury and so on. So I get them to try the pose on for size. Then we talk about it a bit before I get them to try it again. There’s always an improvement the second time around, so I know they hear me once they’ve started to connect with their body a little more.

One girl had what I refer to as an “oh WOW moment”. With big wide eyes, she told me that she’s never felt comfortable doing that pose before and now it’s starting to make sense to her. She was astounded, but actually the astounding thing (as I told her later) is that she’s starting to connect to her own body and to the pose.

This is just the beginning, I said, keep up this sense of feeling and finding what works in your poses!

The other piece of feedback I had was after the class, from a student who’s been coming fairly steadily for about four months now. She’s a lesson in all of the things your students never tell you, even when you ask them to, and how much there is to learn from making time to talk with your students outside of the class.

Because until last night, I didn’t know she had fibromyalgia (no mention of it on her initial registration form!). She told me that doing yoga has transformed her health, which honestly makes my heart do a little dance. Yay, yoga!

BUT she wasn’t happy with the way the last two classes had been somewhat “disrupted” by individuals asking questions that were specific to their own needs. She likes it when the classes flow and we just get into what we’re doing. Which isn’t always possible, as I explained. This is a beginner’s yoga class and sometimes the beginners are total newbies who need specific help.

So we sat down for a little chat. I talked to her about inflammation, knowing from my conversations with Rachel that fibromyalgia/ME has a LOT in common with Hashimoto’s. And we talked about how anger and its cousins: irritation; frustration; annoyance (etc), are basically inflammation – which doesn’t help her health issues. She knew exactly what I was talking about.

I also told her that knowing all of that doesn’t mean that her frustrations don’t matter. They do, but that it’s another aspect of yoga, to work on finding ways to let go of that which irritates us because ultimately, it’s better for our health.

Holding onto anger = holding on to inflammation.

The win in this situation is this: her practice is showing her how easy it is to get irritated, and that’s actually an opportunity to do something about it.

So. What am I saying here?

I guess I’m saying… okay, from time to time, get into a little conversation with your yoga teacher. If they’re caring, they’ll be open to it. Tell them if you’re enjoying their class and/or if there’s something that bothers you. They’ll be very thankful for your words, I promise.

I’m also saying this – even if you don’t have fibromyalgia/ME, Hashimoto’s or any other condition caused by inflammation in the body, letting go of all the things that irritate you means less chance of ever succumbing to chronic inflammation and therefore, dis-ease.

So: work at defusing your road rage, and/or all those little things that niggle you in life. The stuff that makes you snarky, snippy or snappy at yourself/others on your bad days.

Because my lovelies, THAT is all inflammation. And too much inflammation will make you sick.

You can try things like kinesiology, yoga, massage, dancing and other kinaesthetic-based practices that help you connect with what’s really going on with yourself.

It isn’t easy, but it’s possible, says the formerly VERY ANGRY person writing this post.

Coz life is better when we’re not snarky at a moments notice – for us and everyone around us.

~ Svasti

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