Can you take a look at this for me?

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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…):

  1. Stand up (somewhere with enough space that you can swing your arms and legs without hitting anything).
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. 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.)
  4. Keep your eyes closed.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • […] Roads of Writing Roads also has a new post up today. It’s called “Can you look at this for me?” As a writer, it’s natural for me to ask people to check out my stuff or listen to an idea. […]

  • Joe Cascio says:

    Programmers like me are very used to asking for another set of eyes to look at some code they’re working on. It’s a well-known phenomenon that when you have a bug, you can spend hours looking at the code and not be able to see the problem. But almost always, another programmer will look at the code and within seconds or at the most, minutes see the flaw. It’s almost always because you assumed something that’s not correct and that assumption precludes you seeing the real problem.

    There has to be a life lesson metaphor in there somewhere. :)

  • Debra Snider says:

    The “two heads are better than one” concept implicit in this post is so true, and the physical yoga example is a beautiful and highly evocative way to describe it. I, too, think perspective is everything; we can look at things from a lot of angles ourselves, but the way to really see them anew – and to perceive and understand them differently and richly – is to see them through someone else’s eyes. The experience of doing so reveals positives and nuances and possibilities as well as flaws. And how wonderful that it teaches empathy as well.

    I’d love to have one of those private yoga lessons, too!

  • --Deb says:

    I’m forever asking coworkers to double-check when I make changes for them, but they almost never do. And, I’m pretty accurate, and all, but I DO make mistakes. And double-checking is nowhere near as time-consuming as doing the changes in the first place.

    Oh, and I’ve noticed lately that my right shoulder is definitely out of alignment with my left shoulder–all the computer time and mouse-holding is taking its toll. (Not to mention that I sit on the floor whenever I’m using my laptop, kind of leaning sideways.) It’s really no wonder my shoulder has been hurting lately!

  • I practice Pilates with a private trainer. I never realized how uncoordinated and off balance I was. He’ll tell me to straighten my shoulders, and I think they are perfectly straight, but when I look to the mirror, he is, as he always is…correct. I’m totally cockeyed!

    When I am designing something, be it a house or my blog, I have a pretty clear idea of what I want/need it to look like. But as soon as I am done, I have a couple of sets of trusted eyes give it the once over. I make the soup, but sometimes they add the pinch of spice that takes it over the top and makes it delicious.

    I think the important thing to remember is to ask those who’s opinions you trust. If you ask just anyone, they may have an opinion, but it may not be of value to you.

  • Janine says:

    great advice! Can we schedule some yoga sessions at typeamomcon??

  • Julie Roads says:

    What a GREAT idea!!!!!

  • (love your freudian “post” for “pose”! maybe you’re not non-practicing at all? maybe your new asanas are “posts” now?!?)

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