Last week one of my yoga teacher was off for a retreat and the studio was so kind to find a substitute. Before the class started, she introduced herself and had a little chat with us. She seemed really nice, warm, open.
Then the class began and something changed. The smiles were gone, the happy look disappeared and it was like she was replaying an old record. No enthusiasm whatsoever.
She lead the class calling the asanas with their Sanskrit name, giving a quick description and a rough hint of the pose itself. There was no real demonstration of the pose and hearing only the Sanskrit name made things quite difficult when the more advanced poses were called.
My mind was full of Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana, Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana, Padma Mayurasana when I left the room at the end of the class.
On my way home, I wondered if a yoga practitioner should know all the Sanskrit names of the asanas. I think that it is something that comes with the time, but it shouldn’t be given for granted. My idea is that a teacher should feel that something is not working in her class, should be able to make a step back and accompany the Sanskrit name of an asana with its translation if students are bewildered. And believe me, we certainly were.
I can still recall the feeling of confusion that lingered in my head when the class was over and I am still wondering if that day I really practised yoga or just performed a sequence of poses.
Because if yoga is being present, breathing and staying focused, I am not sure I actually did those things in that class.