I believe it was Ben Stiller in the 90’s romcom Reality Bites who coined the phrase ‘non-practicing Jew’ – I’m one of those too, and right now, I’m a ‘non-practicing yoga teacher’ as well. But just like my Judaism, the yoga teaching is still running through my veins. I find myself thinking like a yoga teacher – wanting to lead, make hands-on adjustments, practicing alongside my students, clients, whatever they may be.
My beautiful wife, Patti, however, is a ‘practicing yoga teacher’ and while she does teach traditional classes, her focus is on teaching privates only. Someone asked me why anyone would want a private yoga class. “Wouldn’t that be so weird,” she asked, “to have the teacher just sitting right in front of you, staring at you?”
Yes, that might be weird…it might not. Traditionally the teacher/student relationship was one-on-one with the teacher paying single pointed focus to the student, guiding them along their way. And it usually didn’t look like our yoga classes. When you work with someone in this way, you’re able to look at their body in their postures, talk about injuries or unique physical and mental limitations, etc.
One of my favorite exercises that I used to to with my students, was this (you can totally do this with me right now…):
- Stand up (somewhere with enough space that you can swing your arms and legs without hitting anything).
- Close your eyes.
- Shake your arms and your legs out (like you were trying to get water off of them after the shower – really spiders is a more appropriate example but then you’ll be freaked out about spiders crawling on you and won’t be able to concentrate – so pretend you shake water off, post-shower, ‘kay? Thanks.)
- Keep your eyes closed.
- Now come back to standing in stillness. If you practice yoga, come into the Mountain Pose. If you don’t practice yoga, bring your feet hip width apart, make them parallel to each other, arms down by your sides.
- Now, open your eyes.
Look down at your feet…most people, with their eyes closed, think their feet are parallel and hips distance apart – but the reality that many of you might find is that one or both of your feet is turned out or in (either a little or dramatically) and that your hips distance apart more like a foot or two apart.
And trust me, this is only the part that you can see. Chances are one shoulder is higher than the other, your head is pitched way forward and your right ear is curiously close to your right shoulder. In my case, and Patti always finds this hysterical, my body is rotated a good 15 degrees to the left from my waist up. But I, and you, think we are standing perfect straight, totally symetrical.
It’s fascinating, jarring really. And a fantastic lesson. When I have someone standing with me, they can guide my body into alignment – as often as needed, in whatever post I’m in – until my body releases the habitual holding patterns and learns the alligned way.
So my question is, why wouldn‘t you ask someone to look at all of your stuff? Business plans, new boyfriend, marketing strategies, new suit, tagline, dinner party menu, web copy, first home, logo…
A new set of eyes is likely to find the flaws. You know, when you’ve looked at something so many times, they just seem natural and right to you. I don’t know about you, but I love to be straightened out.
Image courtesy of northstander