Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Yoga Teacher Pushed Me!

I mean that literally. There's no purpose in naming names but just so you understand where I am coming from, he is crème de la crème when it comes to yoga teachers. The real point is: He pushed me!


(Ok, I'm really just kidding. I wasn't really pushed. I was playfully tapped. But! I got you to read this right? So.. keep reading because there is a purpose to this story and to the tap!)

There we all were, more than half-way through an already sweaty practice, following his instructions to stand on the left leg, bend our torsos 90 degrees to stare at the floor, shoot the right leg straight out behind us and outstretch both arms towards the front. This challenging pose makes you look and sometimes feel like superman flying through the sky except that you have to use one leg to hold all of your weight and remain balanced.

If you've never tried to stand in this pose, I suggest doing so. You will probably find that if you haven't practiced it before, it's hard to stay balanced for more than a couple seconds. It is called Warrior Three pose, and like all of the Warrior poses, you can understand why they are named as such since holding them can feel like you are going to war with your body.

Then, he said the words, "It's ok if you fall. You're supposed to fall so that you can learn how to get back up." Meanwhile, I was intensely concentrating to stay balanced, conscious of his words enough to be thinking about the message he was sharing and how true those words sounded to my partially receptive ears, but still quite focused on my own mission to feel at ONE with the Warrior. 

I think I was beginning to feel good about being able to keep my balance and for feeling like I really embodied the full pose in its glorious and intentional state. Perhaps this was especially so since I became aware that he, guru of gurus, was walking near me. As he passed by, I had already started to focus even more intently so that I didn't let the movement or air shifting distract me from staying balanced. Wouldn't me holding the pose perfectly in front of him be a reflection for him that he was a good teacher? Or wouldn't it also be like yelling back, "Bring It On! I can hold your ehstinkeen pose!"  (Yes, yoga can make you mad but the real purpose is to use it to work through it.)

He continued, "I hope you fall." 

With that, and completely unexpectedly, since no one had ever done such a thing to me before in my practice, he tapped my leg and made me fall.  

<insert !@#!@#@!#!@# emotion here>

Of course, it wasn't quite that dramatic. Really, it was just a playful tap. But remember, I was in full-on Warrior pose, already trying to breathe through a pounding heart-beat and full of adrenaline.  He didn't really push me. He just playfully tapped my ankle but since I had been so focused and so knocked off of my target, I was shocked out of my pose. In the split second after the shock wore off, it actually made me laugh out loud.With his intentional tap to unbalance me, he gave me one of those beautiful doses of insight that come regularly with a committed practice, except this time, it was more like a whole bottle of insight.

I think my thoughts flowed as follows: What?! What's happening here?! I fell?! I'm on the ground?! Did he push me?! He did push me!! I can't believe he pushed me!!!!!!! Wait, why would he do that? What was he trying to tell me? Wait, what were those words he was saying, about how we have to learn to get back up? Was he trying to tell me that sometimes we fall of our own accord and sometimes we fall because others freaking (and intentionally) push us down?! Isn't the lesson still the same?! To get back up!! To go back to being a Warrior, stronger than before??!! DING DING DING DING DING. HA HA HA HA.

Of course, I am not suggesting that yoga teachers should go around pushing their students out of poses. I think part of the reason he even "chose" me was because I had also accidentally tapped him with my foot when I started to enter the pose to begin with and of course it was a playful exchange. I think his real intent, or at least what I gained from the experience, was the lesson that sometimes we do have to be pushed to realize something important. And, like he said, we must fall so that we can get back up and try again, stronger than before.

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