Friday, November 18, 2011

Bushwhacking week:( Headstand woes....

Aw, u have all heard enuff of my PMS woes... Well, nevertheless, when it happens, that is the only time I am low on energy... So essentially, every class becomes an intense mental effort for me -- physically I am pooped. My tongue slips from tiredness. I am missing meditation some mornings because my body is tired-lethargic, and my practice wobbles because of the pain all over. This lasts for a week and then I am down because of periods when I really bleed a lot. So, to tide over my pain,  I joke or talk more these times, but the exhaustion is disturbing nevertheless. And the secret is that when I joke or talk more in a class, I usually am more tired. So, if any of my dedicated students are reading this, please keep your mouth shut throughout. It will be a blessing:)

  And strangely, when I am this low, that is when some students can demand more of me.

This week I have another added headache -- my throat is dry (maybe the wine fest?:) and it is raw. I am having difficulty giving kapalabhati instructions. Plus I am running a light fever, which lasts all of this week.

Then, one student starts this week off badly:  a new student, she does not do surya namaskar properly, if she does, she tries to do less. She still clutches her butt in the shoulderstand and is unable to stay afloat there. But she informs me she wants to do the headstand... I am not so sure, seeing the complete lack coordination. Am I obliged to teach it to everyone, including the unqualified ones? I am left wondering these days...I tell her, my dear, everybody expects miracles in the class (or use some such words), but the effort has to be 50-50 from student and teacher. Some students expect the teacher to do everything for them. I have to see that your effort has to be more..." She nods her head sagely. I see in her someone who has been abdicating exercise and who is quite clueless what I am talking of. Also, I have a secret inkling she has done some wishy-washy yoga instructor course from a local inst and thinks she is using my class as someplace she will pick up teaching tricks.So I am feeling irritated with this person, and annoyed with myself for feeling that way (I am not a saint, yet:) -- I want to be able to say no to such lethargic students...or else be a saint, and say yes. Or be a commercially oriented types who just ignore such students and allow them to just sit about. But I  am knotted up, worried about my karma and dharma as a teacher. I am, seriously:( And mostly in class this person is sitting about (having earlier given an excuse of being unwell so I cannot even push her more) and watching me teach  or others do yoga. I decide, that money or dharma, notwithstanding, if this behavior continues into the next month, I will ask her to leave. Will I ever earn anything with this extinct, stoneage,  misplaced attitude...

X who has been with me for one-half years, and whom I am helping everytime into the headstand, because I am a fool and because she is so sweet -- she suddenly enters the headstand cycling in air, her legs flared to both sides (I am not joking)  and drooping and  begins to do what I find disturbing in any student --  least of all expected in an `advanced' student -- she drapes her legs about me. Damn! I am thinking that thot again -- why do I bother with this pose?!!

Then Y who is a new student and who has done yoga before, she says she has done the headstand before. I believe her, because rest of her yoga is neat. I stand behind her, expecting her to go lightly. Instead, she crumbles completely into me, her elbows having fully lifted and every other part of her body totally disoriented!!! I ease her back onto the floor, completely overwhelmed. Thank god she is small made. But  Heavens.  I have been had!!  Next time, I decide firmly, even if a new student claims to have done the headstand, I am going have a gestation period -- or say, " if u have done it before, u can go up on your own."  In that case, somebody who has never done it, cannot lie to me and won't be able to do it... But why do students do this idiotic thing? It is a dangerous error. But then, they come to this class, see people doing exotic things and suddenly feel the overconfident spurt that moves them into attempting something for which their body (and def their mind) is not ready. Yes, they are expected to suddenly turn enthusiastic in class.... But why did I get manipulated this way? The student is not so much at fault, as I, who got carried away... That is what I think, in this week of self-flagellation.

Then, again, the other day, one new student who has learnt the headstand elsewhere and enters it and exits in the clumiest fashion imaginable, and who is unwilling to do anything else (avoidance behavior towards sun salute, all other poses, which are quite shabby to say the least) and who cannot even sit in the lotus, suddenly decides to try the lotus in the headstand. For want of a better description and to put it mildly -- this is stark and unadulterated stupidity!! I don't know how to handle this sort of behavior -- I mean u cannot do the lotus when seated and when u must use two hands to get into it. But suddenly you try that, in the headsatnd, where you simply have no hands to help you into an extremely disorienting new variation.  I mean to say!!!!   GRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrr!

Then, today,the worst happens -- Today is my second days periods, I am bleeding like hell, and feeling super tired.  It is the last class. Leena, who is a walk-in with Petros -- and who is doing wonderful yoga and who sets off that ego monster in me by saying she was happy to have got three things she never did in yoga -- the karnapindasana, the paschimottanasana and the lotus -- in the last two sessions with me  -- attempts the headstand. This is her first attempt. She goes up well. She is a large woman. But her coordination is good. She is following all my instructions. Once up, she tilts over back. But I  get her in place, which is quite a task always, even with small made students.  Mahek, a newcomer,  is watching us both admiringly. Then, when I tell Leena, " draw your knees to your chest," and before I can give her the next cue, which is to "drop the feet to the ground", she drops both knees hard on the mat!! 

She missed a technical cue before it was given  and crumbles with pain. And I am -- I feel that  I lost my class completely after that -- with the stack-up of an entire week's headstand drama  being played out in my class suddenly I feel as if somebody has kicked me hard into my heart. I really feel like that. It winds me completely, that fall.  And then I am wondering again, why I was foolish enough to expect a new comer to move into the next stage -- there will always be a rush to complete the headstand and an instructor has to expect that...  But this knee dropping to the ground -- this has happened first time in the class with me -- and now my mind must prepare for another new surprise a new comer will throw up at me --
How can I learn to ensure my other new students don't do that. Problem, is if you tell students not to drop the knees, that is what most likely they will do. So you cannot say that, but yet have to communicate that to them. I have to find a way to getting around this new strange drop ... heavens, how much thought to give to teaching a pose... Which again, as you can imagine, puts me back into the loop, why I  try to teach this pose!! How could I have expected a newcomer to wait till I giver the next cue?!! Arggh. I am wild with myself!

Poor Leena.  I give her ice. She gamely continues with the rest of the class and tries to smile and laugh that makes me feel even worse. I  mentally berate myself for having allowed her to attempt it after just a third session walk in with me. She is sweet. But I feel bad that I allowed my ego into getting manipulated like that, to let her attempt that pose. It was my ego, damn it!  I feel bad for Leena, the only one amongst all the others I mention above. The energy of the class is meant to spurt new comers into trying new things. So that she should want to try the headstand is good and expected. But I, I always brake myself from getting manipulated like that .. but this time, I allowed my ego to be sweet-talked into teaching something I should not have ... Loops and loops and loops... My mind is in a sick whirl, and the fever adds to the sense of desperation... Some days, I am tired, of teaching. I really am.

I remember that E, an expat, came the first day and started hopping about trying to go into the headstand. He would not listen to me at all, and he is a big guy. When I told him firmly that it was a dangerous thing to do, he sat thru the rest of the class, glaring at me angrily like a spoilt brat. I felt, however, good that I did not feel any anger towards him, and that whatever I was saying was for his good, and the integrity of that, helped me go ahead with the rest of the class. Not surprisingly, E dropped out. And I was, in a manner of speaking, relieved, for his sake, as well as mine.

So I am writing this cathartic thing to get it out of my chest -- so I can face tomorrow's class with my usual zest.  But just now, I still feel like shit... and I hope that my lonely dinner with my paratha and palak masala, which I ordered from Pal's, will make me feel a bit better:(

Prahlada, my asana guru,  will say: " U  feel bad because you are egotistic enough to believe you are the one who is teaching. It is the guru who teaches these poses to some people. You are just an instrument."

Yes, I believe that too. Two hundred per cent.

But just now, I feel like a rusty, old, ineffective instrument:( 


Prachi said...

Ur an awesome teacher ma'am... not just coz u teach so beautifully but for the first time iv begun to look at yoga as an extention of my spirituality n not just excercise!!

Shameem Akthar said...

thank u so much dear. u are a gt student too:) that is why u feel that... it has nothing to do with me... it is what yoga is, an extension and expansion and that is what anybody who practices it must feel:)