blood donation, chi, haemoglobin, iron levels, kidney, liver, maya, non-difference, pescatarian, Prayer, PTSD, self-doubt, source, Stress, Suffering, yoga teaching
The yoga class I taught last night was electrified. Not as in struck by lightning, but it was a really, really good class. I can’t explain why exactly, and I don’t think it’s worth trying to break it down. In this case, I think the sum was definitely greater than the parts.
After my recent yoga teacher break up, I seriously questioned myself – what was I even doing teaching yoga? Not that it was ever said in so many words, but I got the very distinct impression that this teacher didn’t think I should be teaching. Which hey – could well be just my own interpretation and insecurities , but then again maybe not.
I know that my own personal practice is far from perfect. There are the poses I’m yet to master and others I’m still regaining my previous level of proficiency in (thanks, long-term annoying shoulder injury!).
The weekend after my YT break up, my body was still a little freaked from the resulting stress reaction. But anyway, I went to give blood (well, plasma actually) on the Saturday only to be told that my haemoglobin levels were too low to donate.
They quizzed me a bit and get this – six or seven years ago my haemoglobin levels were awesome. Back then I was a pescatarian (fish-eating veggie) so I was arguably consuming less iron than I do these days now that I sometimes eat meat. The last few times I’ve donated, my haemoglobin has been quite a bit lower, but still acceptable.
After running through a whole bunch of possible scenarios, one of the nurses asked me about stress.
Nurse: Yes, it can affect your iron levels.
*dingdingding* went the lights and bells in my mind.
Of course. I explained that five years ago I developed PTSD and while it’s mostly under control now, this week had been particularly stressful. That’ll do it, apparently.
(I am also six years older than back then, however the difference in my haemoglobin levels is considerable).
Had a great chat on Twitter with Cora Wen about such things, and she reminded me of the blood’s connection to our chi, and that stress affects liver and kidney function (the purifiers of the blood). Of course.
I was stunned in some ways, but now I have a new focus – ramping up my liver and kidney chi.
The very next day however, I woke up sick. Like, got out of bed and whoah, I was in the midst of a nasty dose of the flu. Related? Yeah, probably.
Which meant I missed out on teaching last week’s class. Last night I returned to the studio, just not sure what to expect of myself. For my own personal reflection, I was thinking about what I’ve learned from recent events because I feel like I can only teach from what I know and understand personally.
And it was this: non-difference. None of us are different from each other no matter who we are or what we’ve learned or are doing with our lives. Society teaches us that we are independent, individual, different. But this is part of the veil of maya, and it strongly contributes to our suffering – this idea of differentness and separateness.
I went to set up the mats in my little room and completed my pre-class ritual – a short prayer to the gurus who govern the school where I practice (not my gurus personally, but I think it’s only polite. Also: non-difference, remember?). I pray for the right words, the right actions and the best approach for the upcoming class. And I pray that my ego takes a hike while I teach.
Teaching from this place I feel connected to the Source, y’know? Sure, it might be my from limited-new-yoga-teacher version of the Source, but still… I feel the difference. Or the non-difference.
The class was packed, which is the complete opposite of the last two. I think we managed to squeeze fourteen people into the room and had to turn more away (they went to the intermediate class instead).
Everyone was patient and accepting of the crowdedness. I found myself almost immediately throwing out half of my class plan and included some poses I don’t normally do with this group, just so I could see where they were at.
The all worked well together and I let things flow a bit more than usual, not stopping as much to provide breakdowns of some of the more challenging poses this time. I figure sometimes it’s better to just let people feel it in their body and do what they can rather than aiming for precision.
What else made it a good class? Nothing. Everything. I don’t know. It just was. And there were lots of appreciative noises afterwards.
And I knew. I’m not what makes me a good teacher.
It’s when I kick out all of the hang ups that accompany who I am, and when I’m offering people love, smiles and support to do their best, no matter how accomplished their practice is that I’m a good teacher. When I care about what’s going on in that room with as much attention to detail as I can muster, and when I get out of the damn way of the wisdom in the teachings, that’s when the classes really rock.
The teachings are the rock star, not the teacher.
And here’s another prayer: please Kali-Ma, make sure I never forget that!