Settling into my seat, reading the class energy, I assessed what best to teach the group. They didn’t need to say anything. It was all there. Looking tired, but eager to get moving. Bodies running on empty, minds running on overdrive, enthusiasm and inspiration dulled like smoldering wet wood on a fire. A typical state of affairs in Silicon Valley chaos.
I considered a restorative class followed by yoga nidra, instead of the vinyasa class billing. While explaining the process of yoga nidra, a student quipped “I’ll sleep when I die!”
I started in. “Yoga is about bringing the body, mind and energy, into balance. Assessing where we are right now and doing the most efficient form of practice to get us balanced. If you are tired you can also choose to reach for a coffee, or a Red Bull, or cocaine.”
Eyes started to perk up at me. “So let’s see how we can bring your energy back without burning you out. You guys in?” Blank stares.
Teaching the “why” of yoga is not a popular, get-more-likes kind of way of teaching. Yet invariably students thank me for little things learned along the way. Like accommodating their body to the purpose of the pose, or combining poses with specific breath ratios have noticeable energetic effects that extend far beyond the mat.
I’m teaching them how to honor energy and potential. I pray they get it. I really pray that they get it.
In my thirties, I was starting a company, traveling incessantly, saying yes to too many social invitations, and racing triathlons. My triathlon coach lectured me on the power of “tapering;” decreasing your workouts before a race, allowing the body to restore for the long haul of race day. Although it was difficult to stop working out during taper week, it was right.
In the triathlons of our lives we require rest, balance and refuel intervals to be at our best. Yoga offers so many techniques to do this. But we get stuck in yoga practice expectations and push our meat beyond the limits.Oftentimes we are left listless, dull, reaching for uppers in the morning, downers at night; a sick, sad cycle.
Worse, we often teach in ways to meet students’ expectations without calling forth their capacity to deeply listen to their innate intelligence. But without finding a sustainable balance through the practice of yoga, we diminish clarity, potentiality, vibrancy. So, regardless of “likes,” I commit to practicing wisely, and to teaching the wisdom of the practice.
Photo Credit: Brenna Geehan