Ana Forrest-Day 8

Ana Forrest-Day 8

Dear Lynda Beth,

Today I got pissed. Hot molten anger which rose up through my legs and belly and made me want to wheel walk like a spider over to the person who provoked it and kick her in the face. Hard. I wanted to kick her not only for me but for my whole group. Im such a Mama that way.

I was part of a group of ten teachers and we designed a class and then group taught it. This means each one of us taught a section. We didn’t know ahead of time which part. It all happened fast.

The fast part plays with your head.

Another group of ten teachers observed the hour and half yoga class. They took notes and once our teaching was over, they gave us feedback. Let me add- they gave us feedback in front of Ana and her Guardians who were observing their feedback as much as they were observing our teaching.

I taught Warrior Two with bird wing- a strange pose where the benefits for the body are not immediately evident, where delight and let go does not come easy. It is a pose that requires patience and being willing to follow the directions.

“Place your elbows on your ribs.” I inhaled and said this on exhale. Like I have been trained to do.  I looked at the students to see if my cue was followed. Yes for some but not for all.

“Put your elbow on your ribs,” I said again, this time with more authority. My eyes combed the room and stopped gently on the ones who still needed to bring their elbows in more. Its not an easy move for some bodies. Tired bodies.

One additional student responded to my second cue.

 I’m good with that. I coach myself. Sweat dripped off my hair and onto the side of my cheek.

I’m a combination of knowing what I am doing, but still not sure I’m enough, I am wanting, aching, trusting, doubting, and breathing all rolled up into one. I forget about the group of yogis lined up against the wall watching me. I hear some faint scribbling on paper but it is more dreamlike that real.

Maybe this is leaving time and space and my body, maybe this is being present and in a place of grace and prayer. Sometimes teaching yoga is like that. Whose to say?

When the teaching was over and it was my turn to receive feedback, I faced the ten yogis whose backs were up against the wall, holding open notebooks in their laps. The procedure is I stand up in front of them and say my name. They call out their observations of my teaching. One person at a time and in no particular order.

I get some helpful feedback.

You could be more in your body, in your legs, said one.

You jut your chin out when you teach, said another.

OK Im cool with these. Probably true.

But then this:

You sound pissed off when you teach.

You could be more compelling.

Yes I agree said someone else.

You could be more compelling.

Bam!

I am triggered. 

Anger. Up from my toes into my cheeks making them shine. A hot red face burning.

How dare someone say I am not compelling? That I sound pissed?

The day is done and I get in my car. Mad, angry, spent, depleted.

I needed the hour ride home to recover.

It is early morning as I write this. Its not yet light and in twenty minutes I will need to get ready to make the hour long drive for the last day of this training.

We will begin the last morning as we have begun each of the nine days, with ceremony, music, meditation and dance. Morning ceremony is beautiful. soft, quiet, loud and healing. A landing space.

Jose starts each ceremony reminding us that we are on borrowed land. The land always has and always will belong to the people who first lived here. The Native Americans.

These words guide me and remind me that my spirit, my sense of worth and value belong first to me.

I don’t have to give it away to the opinions of others. I don’t have to be perfect or compelling all the time.

I just need to be me.

And I know who I am.

I have always known.

In the end, let me do love.

Plus, I can’t see the haters, when I’ve got the love glasses on.

Now I think I should thank the sister yogi who said I sounded pissed when I teach.

The one I wanted to kick.

Forgive me as I was triggered.

Never waste a good trigger.

Turn shit into fertilizer.

Because in the end, what else is there to offer but your love.

Love,

Anne

 

Ana Forrest Day 6

Dear Lynda Beth,

I taught for the second time today in front of Ana. I made sure to do the breath formula which means take an inhale before each phrase you speak. I’ve been working on breath formula for a while, since my last training  in May of 2014, so breathing before speaking is not new to me, like it is for so many others here. I watch in amusement as they struggle because I remember.

At first I was really pissed off about the breath formula.

How dare you tell me to breathe? I’m a fucking yoga teacher. I’m a breathing expert. I’ll breathe when I want to and not when anyone else tells me.

It took me a while. A year and half of practicing it but now I get the value of breath formula. It slows me down so I don’t go on automatic Mother pilot while I am teaching. Get bitter and resentful. Do this and that.

You’re still giving you students too many choices, Ana says. Her long black and silver hair is tied up on top of her head with multiple hair ties making sections in her pony tail.

“Stop saying grab your foot or your ankle, just tell them to grab their ankle. It diminishes your power and will make you exhausted. It’s simple,” she says.

Her tone is kind and patient. She will get irritated if I don’t take her cue and continue to add extra words. I know these things by now. So I take her cue. Partly because I love her and partly because when I watch the advice she gives others, it’s clear that she’s right.

Ana had one student, a lovely Italian lady, shout out to us as she was teaching, “We all need to get laid more.” It was a funny moment, especially cause the lovely Italian lady was struggling to find words up in front of all of us and it added levity, but it also made me think about how often I get laid. Not enough.

We don’t always pair these things together, getting laid and teaching yoga. Maybe we should.

I laughed out loud.

Ana is changing before our eyes. Those of us that have been studying with her for a while see it.

I think about how every time I change as a teacher I have students who don’t like it. Last time I came home from her teacher training, one of my students told me she liked me better before and to just be true to me. I mean she scheduled an appointment with me to tell me this. It was that important to her.

I got really pissed at this student but didn’t show it, because what good would that do and I also didn’t fully understand where my anger was coming from.

How the fuck does she know who I truly am under my yoga persona, under my carefully chosen yoga clothes?

She has no idea cause sometimes I don’t.

Her words got me.

But there was a message there- I don’t need anyone else’s permission to change.

I only need my own.

We did Suns today for thirty five minutes at the beginning of practice. Suns is the abbreviation Ana uses for Sun Salutations. I like to say it. Suns. Suns. It makes me feel cool and in the know.

We got to do it with the music turned up as loud as possible. The addition of music to the group practice is new.

We always do our morning intensive practice with her in silence. But I know she does her own practice to music. I like being let in.

The Who , Adele, and other musicians whose names I do not know played loud while we all moved at our own pace. Over and over again. The room was warm-heated- and all 60 of us were in this together. The guy next to me took his shirt off and I felt him let of of a rigidity he had been holding on to the whole week. I began to breathe.

I closed my eyes and stepped my leg back into lunge lifting my arms up to the high ceilings. This is yoga. This is where I find my soul and sometimes when life is kicking my ass I leave my tender soul on the mat because I know it will hold it for me till I can come back and reclaim it.

I step my foot forward into lunge and lift my lower ribs away from my pelvis. This is space. I can have this. Space.

Space for change. Space for acceptance. Space for the unknown.

When the suns are over, I am spent. My sweat is pouring out of me like rain.

We then precede to do three more hours of hard demanding yoga. Three.

At first I resist, but then I breathe into the spaciousness.

I hear the Who’s lyrics. Only love can make it rain.

Love to you,

Anne