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.
They say that the asana you avoid the most is the one you need the most
I can tell you that every time we are asked to do the Wide-Legged Forward Bend, I can hear every fibre of my body screaming “NO”. And I approach the asana with a closed heart.
In my body partial defence, I have to say that a couple of years ago I injured my gracilis muscles (I guess that’s how they are called) and that’s why my body now stops with fear. I am perfectly fine now, but my body is stubborn.
I know that what I need to learn here is to overcome my stubbornness, to trust my mind and to relax. I know that with humility, practice and breathing I will give a concrete shape to the image in my mind.
There is a lot that this asana can teach me and I am willing to learn. The first step will be to change my immediate response as we spread the legs wide apart. Just changing that, keeping my focus on my breathing and being there in that moment without thinking of a possible hurting future will do the trick to approach the pose with an open mind.
Good thing is that I am not in a hurry and I will enjoy the journey to the floor.