Thursday, February 03, 2011

To be an instructor: more than the bizness angle

When u teach a pose like this one, u always worry, which angle to take it from if you are woman! Is your T-shirt going to hold up, or wat?!! I always wear a T-back inside, so I don't have to agonise about all this. And my dreadlocks also come nicely handy:)  However, if u take the side angle demo and there, the muscles poop out, ho! Then u worry the audience is more intrigued by all that and not the elbow tilt, so crucial to the peacock pose.. :)

And if there are women students, some who worry, when they see my muscles that they are going to get `over-toned' that way:) I cannot assure them enough,  while doing the pose (obviously) or after that, that tone will never happen unless they are maniacal about yoga, the way I am:) And when will I spot someone as maaadd  about yoga the way I feel for it..:(  That is the reason I cannot think of running a center...

When I started yoga, and thought to become instructor, I used to do over five hours of yoga because I was a stiff person, constantly sick and recovering, very anxiety-prone, self-conscious, loudly extroverted, and adrenaline-junkie etc. But I never missed a day's practice. Even the aunty-type yoga I started on, I used to never miss the class, even during monsoons when the drain water would have flooded the roads and I would wade wet, to the class in Borivli.  I never spent a moment away from yoga. If I was not doing yoga, I was thinking, reading, breathing yoga. I used to simultaneously attend two yoga instructors' courses (before I decided to do the Sivananda one) because I did not find either of the courses complete. That same time my kid decided to learn swimming. So, I used to go to the swimming class with her, and was doing so much physical activity that could have prepared me for the long haul marathon:) And some guinness record, no doubt. I was imperfect, of course, since I started late in life. But I made up for it with my dedication...

Even while training, I  often seemed to know more about the poses than  my instructors or teachers in those early institutes. I am not saying this as a matter of arrogance but merely as a matter of observation. I recall one lady, daughter of a famous yoga institute in Chennai and studying for medicine, who had no clue about the biology of yoga. And when I taught some poses, as a trainee with them, she was very annoyed that I could discuss the pose from the spiritual, psychic and biological angle. She used to, from then on, bitch openly about me in her large class:) Or giggle in Tamil (which I understood very well, it being my native language), making personal comments about me etc.. And she was my teacher!! Seeing such people I had decided that I was not going to be a negative teacher, ever. Imagine, a yoga teacher, headed that way!!! What are these people thinking of when they teach this beautiful science... ???

Then I used to read up every book I could on yoga. I had thousands, all of which burnt down in a fire at my old home, but I bought every one back (but some are still unavailable)  I would read books on yoga every moment between the practice and my kid.  It all just fell in place for me, why this was working on my body and mind. Why I could freelance late into the night, working till two or three am, and then, wake up for a 6 am  class, having hardly slept at all. . And cycle my way to the training centers, because it was so far off and Chennai autos are looters. (I was earning quite a neat amount then as a net writer for foreign publications and some magazines and that sustained my madness.)   I used to take on yoga from every angle I could -- the biology, the psychic, the spiritual, the anecdotal, the mythological angle.. everything. I was yoga-intoxicated. It was such a high. It released me..

What gripped me was the spiritual aspect of yoga. The mind thing. The mano nasha in yoga, the destruction of the mind. It was Oh, Wow, Aha moments, simultaneously hitting me from various angles. It was such a high. Yoga Vashishtha, Vivekachudamani, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Aparokhshanubhuti, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Sutras -- Yoga was falling place. Even so, and even now, I feel inadequate as an instructor, and am often appalled at the quality of some other instructors, and the attitude, behind the show of humility, that they wear. When I wanted to become an instructor, it was very low-brow stuff to do that.. Now it is glamorous. Both the low-brow attitude, and the sham-glam, has spawned such ridiculous breeds of instructors. And this seems to be a peculiarly Indian problem.

Now I `teach' the physical aspect of yoga, and occasionally blabber about the mind aspect. And know I have not communicated...

And when people say they want to become instructors, I am glad for them, and the direction their life will take.

What I cannot tell them is that there is an exhilirating madness in yoga where u stop being everything, including an instructor!

Anything, else, it is just any other job.


Anila said...


Its no different here too(outside india)- where there are so many streams of yoga (the latest addition being 'pyjama' yoga-yes you heard it right.simply that you do yoga in your pyjamas-and dont worry about those expensive yoga clothing and accesories,plus they seem to have some unique 'asanas'!)..I read a lot about yoga too, and i think there is so much to offer that probably people should start doing their Masters and PhDs on yoga would be a great choice!


Anamaya Retreats said...

I work at a Yoga Retreat Center in Costa Rica and recently I have become very interested in learning more about the different aspects of yoga like you mentioned in your post (science, biology, spiritual, etc.)...not just the physical ones which I already know are amazing. Your dedication to learning is very inspiring! Thanks for sharing!