Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Yoga class and emotional vampires!!
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Once in a while I hit a low patch, emotionally, as a yoga teacher. That is because though I talk money, I only do that be done with the commercial part of the transaction and get on with teaching. I am a rather non-commercial teacher, and so I make a lot of rules, to protect my integrity along those lines, even though that may sound like a contradiction. I mean I am business-like about the finance aspect of the class since otherwise I know I am built to be over-run by everybody!!
I am a foolish, uncalculating teacher -- if I feel a student is not in the range of what I want, I am likely to ask the person to drop out. I am often happy when certain type of students don't come to my class -- how business-like is that?!!! I may indicate, directly, that I don't want the student in the class!! How will I make money teaching that way!! I have often wondered if I will last the pressure of walking my talk, sabotaging myself, because -- unlike a lot of yoga teachers and institutes who look at a student and see rupees, I see a person who may want to share my thrill in yoga. I realise I am a minority amongst teachers... and where does that leave my own self-interest??
So, though I have oodles of compassion for certain type of students, and really understand their vulnerabilities that makes them push a yoga teacher into a role she or he does not want, I am often drained by these type of students...
Sharmishta, a student, empathised when I discussed this with her, suggesting I read Judith Orloff's Positive Energy. So I surfed for the author and found some of her articles on the subject, reading which I feel a bit reassured that yes, there are emotional vampires all about, and they are particularly drawn to yoga classes and that yes, such students do make you, the teacher, feel drained, even physically, and so yes, if you are a giving person, you are going to smothered to death by them...and yes, u need to protect yourself.
Now a lot students ask me, why all yoga teachers don't teach all things. That is because they don't want to be giving teachers, because being that way is so draining. If they give one way, they will be drained. So they armourplate, don't give, anything at all, so don't lose anything, nothing at all. Now if I was like that, I will be a rich yoga teacher and I will not feel drained, as I sometimes I feel!
Some interesting things from what Orloff says here:
Physical symptoms of being drained by an emotional vampire: U feel sleepy and lethargic!
She gives the different types of emotional vampires.
My own vulnerability is to those who will just come to class, either sit quietly doing nothing on the mat and stare at me, or will do the same pose with the same mistakes or fresh mistakes to get my attention. If don't do this, they will write me a 3000-word mail whining they are not getting my attention like before!!
I had an elderly woman, who I fussed over for two months but who would do nothing till I physically manipulated her : Meaning, leg lift, I had to hold her leg up. She was otherwise healthy but clearly was lacking love in her life! So, she was happy at the contact and energy transference I am giving. One day, she just lay about and I was unwilling to fuss as much over her because one, I felt she needed to do these things herself and two, her constant attention-seeking was holding me from the rest of the class. So, in the next class, she said she had severe fever after the class because the previous class had exhausted her!! Imagine, though she had nothing because she only did any move if I helped her and that day she had not even done that!! She claimed she had to take painkillers to keep the headache down!! What would you make of that?? Is this Rs 2500 a person gives for my class supposed to cover love, attention and energy transference etc??
And this girl who writes this 3000-word letter (I did not read it since I knew where that was coming from) because she was not getting attention from me... that observation, anybody who has been in my class, including my worst enemies, will say is a bigtime lie!! And if she had any clue how yoga classes are run, including in famous institutes, she would know how stupid that observation was ... but of course,her words did not mean that... she was saying something else -- I am not playing mom to her any more, damn! That is what this is about!
Some ways of getting negative attention:
* One woman who claimed to want to come to my class smsed me daily, just before a class, a long message, saying she was coming just now or she could not come now, but will come an hour later or some such other thing. She never came, but unfailingly would sms me every day, just before the class was to start, some such thing.. weird, for a month!
* Trying to discuss or argue some yoga scholarly stuff just before the class starts. `Patanjali said this, but you are teaching something wrong' Or `this local institute teaches this pose this way, why you are teaching the other way' (because my method is the right method Watson:).... They actually do that, some students!
* Negative personal comments about the teacher: amazing, but true. So, though I joke about a lot, I am a very shuttered teacher personally.
* Or sneak up to me and say meaningfully, that pose you made me do, it has given me a a very severe pain in this particular toe!! (Catch them trying that stunt in a spinning class or a gym routine or a belly dance class. But a yoga class with a sitting0duck yoga teacher, wow, the vampire is out of its hiding:)
* Another whine to get attention: "You no longer want me in this class." I am now supposed to gush and say how much I want you, the best type of student, in the class.
* The most interesting one is where in the most basic poses, like a triangle, or sun salute, where the student will keep making errors or repeating errors that you correct. I cottoned on to this amazing attempt to get your attention by some people..
I love yoga. But I hate all this about a yoga class... the psychological tangles that people want to knot around me ...
Mmmm, I know all this is also part of evolution. And I think the best evolution for me now would be to turn commercial, to cut this crap:)