In Australia at least, the last yoga classes of the year tend to have fewer and fewer people turning up. Do I blame Christmas with all the parties and the shopping frenzy? Or Summer, with people going on holidays? Perhaps it’s both.
Anyway, both my last class as a student AND my last teaching for the year both happened this week.
There were four of us in the class I go to as a student. Something my teacher said (and often says) as we started our lovely, visually-led only (to music) class was: Please enjoy. I do.
I had two students show up, but I didn’t care. Or rather, I did. Because I had something of a Christmas present for my students. In yogic style, it was a gift of words, not things, and it was based those four words my teacher likes to say: Please enjoy. I do.
At the moment I mostly teach beginners. You know, those of the stiff joints, uneven breathing, furrowed brow and squished up faces (from either concentration or discomfort). The stiffness releases over time, the breath smooths with pranayama, but the furrows and the squishiness are more to do with the mind than the body.
Hearing my teacher ask us to “Please enjoy”, prompted me to wonder once more what it’s like to be a beginner to yoga again. What are these students of mine going through exactly? Do they enjoy their classes? I mean, some of them keep coming back so I guess they do but… what’s going on for them?
How much do my students enjoy their yoga classes?
Of course, asking myself this meant that I also asked my students. All two of them this week!
The responses were varied. One student just LOVES coming to classes, despite having ME. In fact, her ME is helped greatly by yoga. The other student still has quite limited movement in his body so he currently finds yoga a bit painful. But he still comes back.
I asked each of them how much time they spend each class concentrating, feeling overly serious (despite my endless line up of bad jokes), and beating themselves up about how their poses look or feel…
Versus finding joy in what they are doing. Savouring the moments of peace, calm and spaciousness – even if they are only happening a moment at a time.
As I talked, I watched their facial expressions change, from which I gathered they do the beating up of themselves more than the finding enjoyment.
So I asked that for this class and in as many as they could from now on, to take this gift of words and use it to remind them to find enjoyment in their practice. Even if it’s only in savasana. Find something that they can fully enjoy to balance out all of the attitude they give themselves!
To let go of the negatives, the super-concentration and find a bit of bliss from moving your body and breathing.
Then I gave them a couple of poses in class that we haven’t done before and still asked them to relax and let go.
And I extend this gift to you – of remembering to chill the heck out in your practice.
Please enjoy. I do.