Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another walk to the MB to teach yoga at my 11:30 Saturday class. Over three years now. With such a sad beginning. I miss Yolanda and think of her virtually every time I walk into the teaching room. To me it is her room - especially during that time slot. Hard not to compare myself. She was as close as one gets to the perfect yoga teacher: growing, absolutely committed to yoga, lovely, graceful, a student of the poses, fresh, loving, living in the moment, rhythmic, a dancer, strong, fierce, soft, gentle, wise, Wise. Her qualities go on and on. And so do her spirit and soul. It is as if she is still alive; so many of us who knew/know her feel this. Her presence is palpable, strong, she continues to teach and guide.

"Make it your own!" he exhorted me when I said I would hold the space for her. No! It was her immediate reaction. "You must make it your own!" No ego, no competition, no holding on. "Make it your own." And that is how I want to feel about the person who follows me. It want them to make it their own.

Perhaps by way of leaving feeling complete I am offering private teaching times to some of my students. Like my German student, I want them to go into the world without me with their questions asked and the poses that confound them worked on. If I stay, I know in a group setting more about their needs and practice.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Quick two day. Yesterday didn't walk at all - except for the usual just getting around my life. I'm thinking yoga siphons off much of the nervous energy that used to propel me into daily massive walks or massive tension if I didn't do huge amounts of exercise. It's still new to me - this understanding and trusting that yoga could be a large percentage of what I need in terms of defusing, exercise, breathing, meditating, opening, clearing...on a daily basis. Scary for a former exercise 'addict.'

Today walked down to the MB to sub at noon and then over to the YMCA gym with my brave and balanced yoga student/friend to do his important work. More will come. The wonder was that we were able to work with openness, fluidity, strength, focus for over 45 minutes. This is the third week; the first week 20 minutes was a struggle physically, psychologically and maybe other realms. I am increasingly awed by him. (And by so many of my students. Really all of them I have the gift of getting to know and possibly work with individually. We humans are so complex, and really there is great courage called for in just continuing to continue. And, yes, often joy; a complex gift, our lives. And yoga is the complex tool that enables those of us to whom it speaks to be present to the constant unfolding of this mysterious and awesome gift.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday and again just short walks. One to TMB this morning to teach for Jo and then later when I walked to Laurel Village while my tires were being rotated and the car was prepared for its Ashland journey in a few weeks. Again, much wind. Damp, cold wind - hair disaster wind that also takes its toll on my desire to walk.

Probably my yoga teaching also has an effect on my walks. I teach largely by demonstrating/leading so every class I teach is essentially a class I do. And it is inside, out of the elements so by the time I'm done teaching, I've gotten a well-rounded amount of exercise and am kind of together and more apt to stay that way and do city/social things.

But still, even in the short walks, San Francisco is a wonder. Starting with the studio being 4 blocks away. And then today my Big O tire place was just three blocks from all the Walgreens, Wells Fargo, etc. errands in Laurel Village where one of the treats is Books, Inc. Today I browsed mostly the children's picture book section trying to get more familiar with the genre that one of my creative consulting clients favors. I still don't have that much of a feel for those books and how/why they are chosen to be published. Partially I'm sure because I don't have children and don't have first hand knowledge of how they relate to these books. Also, the books rely So much on illustration; I wonder how many of the published authors submit illustrations with their copy and are chosen for the whole package.

Also spent some time with a book on the history of Venice (Ackroyd), someone Brookings who won the Pulitzer Prize for 'March,' 'Art and Madness' about disempowered women of the 50's and and 60's married (and divorced) from exceedingly difficult (and drunken) famous authors, an Indian novel named Shar...which made me think of Emmy who loves India (900+ pages; Emmy's the only one I can imagine sticking with such a book until the end). A few more; somehow remembered the many unread books on my shelves and by my bed so resisted an impulse purchase of more.

It does feel so good though to just let my mind play with topics and titles and covers. So even though today's walking was short, it was so freeing and expanding.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21 - First Day of Summer

No walks today - except to yoga teaching and back. Supposedly the temperature is in the upper 70's but there is a cool wind so it feels very comfortable. Still the wind is a detriment of sorts.

I teach yoga at the studio where I began practicing regularly. I'd been doing yoga on and off - mostly off - for over 20 years when I went there 17 years ago. I'd been trying my luck at the Great American Novel which called even my bluff on aloneness/solitude. So it was my great fortune that this studio had replaced an art gallery a few months earlier. Almost the first time I came for a class I encountered one of my primary teachers, Thomas Fortel. Because of the proximity of the studio - 4 blocks from my home - and Thomas I began to come often. Sometimes for 2-3 classes a day. After 7 years the studio offered a yoga teaching program. I'd been thinking of growing my practice and the teachers who were offering the program were some of my favorites (except for who Thomas had moved on to Esalen and international retreats), so I enrolled with no thought whatsoever of teaching. But when I finished I felt rather empty with no place to develop and pass on the teaching I'd learned, but conflicted because some nameless thing stood between me and actually teaching .

I began to realize I was right up against an unanticipated obstacle - fear of public speaking. I'd forgotten that I was uncomfortable speaking in front of groups - and that I wished this wasn't the case. So I began Toastmasters - a wonderful program that has helped many but wasn't for me. It seemed geared to business presentations and showmanship/artificiality - and actually made me more anxious. Then a friend/fellow trainee told me about a small, intimate program called Speaking Circles. I went to my first circle at a man's house not far from me - but far enough to drive - and met the founder/director, Lee Glickstein. There were seven others present - and I believe the limit is/was eight so it was a full house. We were all quite and visibly nervous. Lee went to the front of the room and introduced the concept of Speaking Circles: Authenticity - stand up, look at someone, speak as if you're talking to that person, and just trust whatever comes out. Some people cried, others were entirely silent, others spoke haltingly, some were terrific, but turns out they had been attending the circles for years and still felt challenged in the Circles setting. Meanwhile after speaking (or crying or being silent) we were all videotaped and given feedback - Only Positive but also truthful. In this way we learned that we could survive anything, didn't need to plan ahead, could be authentic - and that just our authentic selves were interesting and enough. I went twice a week for several months - and after a while I worked up the courage to view my videos thus beginning to accept what I looked and sounded like (Scarey!!!). Finally I felt ready to dare to begin teaching yoga.

When I made this decision I spoke with the teacher of Thomas's old class - my first regular class - and learned he was just about to give up teaching it. He said he'd be happy to pass it on to me, and the studio was agreeable. And so I began my yoga teaching journey. The class is still active, and we begin our 8th year together in just a few weeks. This longevity was utterly unexpected - as has been virtually everything about my relationship with yoga.