Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The gift of teaching

Last night, I taught a class at http://www.lenordik.com/, this lovely Scandinavian spa outside Ottawa, on the Quebec side. I teach there each Monday evening. It is such a treat to teach there, because of the beauty of the place. Nestled in the Gatineau Hills, it is a perfect place to unwind, with pools and waterfalls and fireplaces and steam rooms sprawled among the hills and trees. I feel so so lucky to be able to teach here. People come with the sole intention to relax and unwind, so it is delightful to be able to teach people who are there to find a bit of quiet and calm.

I had a very full class last night, 21 people. It was such an interesting mix of people. There were a few actors and dancers from a local summer theatre group. There were three chi-gong instructors in my class, one of whom is traveling around the world with her teachings. There were a couple of ladies who didn't bring any yoga clothes and hid out in the back of the room in their bathing suits, but were wonderfully committed to doing a class. I was really aware, and really thrilled, with the variety and mix of people in our class. I noticed a great joy in the class, right from the beginning. I believe each student brings their own energy into each class, and the energy last night was joyful.

We did a lovely class together, and students came into the apex pose of pigeon, initially sitting up in the backbend of pigeon, and then allowing their bodies to release forward into lying pigeon.

As I looked around at my students, I saw such releasing in their bodies. I heard some gentle sighs, saw muscles relax in backs and legs, and felt a release in the energy in the class. It is a challenging pose, and it can bring up a lot of thoughts and issues and such, because of the work that is done in the back of the hamstrings and glutes. But as I encouraged them to breathe through the sensations that were arising, there was a real sense of release. After a few gentle counterposes to this, students came onto their back, into apanasa, and eventually into savasana. I simply reminded them about releasing, letting themselves sink into their mat, and allowing their breath and mind to soften. And the most beautiful thing happened. They did! I could see it, across the room. People were letting go. Softening. Coming to that still, quiet place. People often wonder, what does the teacher do, while students are lying still? Well, I don't know about other teachers, but I observe my students. I observe their breath. I notice how soft their breath becomes, as they let go. I do watch, in case someone gets anxious or uncomfortable as they lie there. Yesterday, as I was observing my students lie there, I had such a sense that they were lying there like children, fully free, fully relaxed, not a care in their minds. I don't know if that's true, but that is what was radiating up from the group. An ease, an effortlessness, a quiet calm. A total innocence. It was so beautiful, and again, I was reminded what a gift it is to be a teacher. To have students place their trust in me, to lie there so simply, to make themselves vulnerable. I am so grateful. To be able to observe such softness, such innocence and peace. It brought tears to my eyes.

After savasana, students came to sitting, and we chanted Ohm three times, to close our class. The ohms were so beautiful. While, in our opening chants at the beginning of the class, there were voices and pitches all over, the closing ohms were different. They were so rich and resonant and all in the same pitch. The vibration was very powerful and very unified. For me, this is how I sense my students have been able to go to a lovely place in the class, when all our vibrations begin to match. It's such a beautiful thing.

So, again, I am grateful. For the gift of teaching. For the blessing of sharing the beautiful teachings of yoga. I am delighted. I am blessed. Thank you to each and every one of you who has ever been a student. You give back so much more than you know! Namaste.

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