The Slow Down

When it comes to learning styles, I am very much a visual kind of gal. Actually, I am a seer/doer. I need to see it happen and then I need to have the freedom to try it with my own hands (and possibly in my own way). Perhaps all of this explains why I prefer to be able to demonstrate postures when I teach yoga. I like to circulate and keep an eye on everyone in my class, of course, but I also like to hop on the mat and lead the way as we flow together for an hour. Demonstrating feels important for my Basic Flow class, especially, because many of the people who come are new or relatively new to the practice and aren’t yet familiar with the asanas to the point of being able to find the pose by name only. I know there are some schools of thought/yoga that require absolutely no demonstrating – cueing and watching the students, only. While I am happy to keep working on my cueing skills so I can someday get students through a complicated (or even basic) sequence with words only, for the time being I am very grateful to be more of the see it/do it mold. One problem with my preferred teaching style, however, becomes apparent when injury occurs, as it unfortunately did this week.

I awoke Thursday morning and felt perfectly fine, perfectly normal until I got out of bed and instantly knew something was very, very wrong. Somehow my neck was completely out/locked up and I had shooting pain if I so much as tried to glance at my left shoulder, much less actually turn my head that direction. It was awful. And did I mention Ben was out of town?! Thankfully his mom was here so after I got HD to school, I was able to buzz up to GI to see my chiropractor and I then began the waiting game. The slow it down, take it easy game. No sudden movements and no activity. As you can imagine, that’s not easy to do with a house full of Littles, but somehow I kept still enough through the rest of Thursday and Friday to get me to Saturday where I started feeling better and began to get some of my range of motion back with both my neck and my arms (try lifting your hands over your head to change your shirt or wash your hair when your neck is out…not fun!).

Thank goodness the relief came when it did because I had my regular Sunday Flow to teach this morning and on Thurs/Fri I wasn’t so sure I’d be able to do it because I was in that much pain. This morning, feeling much improved but still not “better,” I knew going in that I would not be able to do all – not even most – of the practice with them. But we talk all the time in yoga about honoring your body and meeting yourself where you are today, so today I had to live that. I showed up on the mat and did what I could. Nothing more. And, really? That was OK. It was strange to not flow right along with my class but I enjoyed watching my Sunday morning yogis find their own way through the sequence and trusting their bodies and their knowledge when it came to landing in the postures. They all got there and together they built a beautiful class full of gratitude, and, well, thanksgiving, which was totally the point of the class.

Those of you who know me, know I love themes. I’ve said before that themeing is one of my favorite aspects of yoga teaching and nothing has changed for me there. I love building a sequence based on a certain body area or chakra or goal, such as heart opening or gratitude building. Actually, those are pretty much the same thing because having an open heart is to have a grateful heart and what a beautiful way to move through a yoga practice both on and off the mat. So, yes. This week’s classes are bent at gratitude – both for elements within ourselves and also within our lives in general. And that gratitude felt very real, very present for me today, even though I was limited in my movements, because just to be there at all felt like such a wonderful gift.

The other cat that clearly came out of the bag during class this morning, is that my music/playlists totally match my mood for the day/week. When I teach Happy Hour on Fridays? I get fairly sassy and start throwing in funkier songs with wilder lyrics. When I’ve been feeling run down or have hurt myself? The tunes chill way out and take on a whole different vibe. I like to keep the messages in the music positive still, if I can, because for me, the music and the movements are both essential parts of the practice. Clearly I am not the only one because I often have people make comments about the music after class and I am always happy to share the music love, whether it is the funkier and fun or the milder and mellow. To me, the music becomes about the connection with my head, my heart, and my breath; I realize this may not vibe historically with yoga, but again, I remain grateful to be who and where and when I am because these are the elements that make me feel full, even when I’m physically taken down a degree (or ten).

Even though it is easy to get spun up in the rush and hubbub of the holidays, I hope you all find your own slow down (hopefully not necessitated by injury!) and happy connection with others this week. Be sure to take care of you and honor where you are right now in life, so that your hearts remain open and full of thanks.

With much love and peace, Namaste!

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