Years ago I discovered Lydia Davis’s fragmentary short stories. While extremely brief and lacking standard beginning-middle-end structure, they were strangely compelling. Recently I was reminded of her: the title of my last post, “The End of the Story,” is the title of her only novel. For fun I Googled her name and found an interesting…… Continue reading The challenge to my intelligence
One of my yoga-teacher colleagues wondered if she reveals too much of herself to her students. Before class, she might chat with students, and so they end up knowing bits and pieces about her life. Warm and outgoing, she calls herself an “open book” with people. But she questioned whether should be more “mysterious,” ie,…… Continue reading Are you chatty with your yoga students?
Last Sunday, I was about to start teaching when I spied water bottles amid the mats, blocks, and blankets. It was hot, and I teach a rigorous class. One student claims that I can make her sweat in Tadasana. “Put your water bottles against the wall,” I said, “otherwise I might kick them over. Strict…… Continue reading No water bottles in the studio
Recently at the gym, I spied on a yoga-type class (it turned out to be “lyrical jazz”) in the adjacent dance studio. The teacher was doing what resembled Upavistha Konasana, facing a wall-to-wall mirror. Behind her, a lineup of students tried to copy. With her elbows grounded on the floor, the teacher lengthened her spine forward.…… Continue reading Is a bad yoga class still pretty good?
At a recent Iyengar teacher training session, we took turns performing and observing different asanas. In Iyengar yoga, being a keen observer is essential to being a good teacher. The great ones can practically intuit students’ weaknesses, habits, and blind spots. I ended up performing Adho Mukha Vrksasana (arm balance or handstand) at a wall for…… Continue reading Are your yoga teachers as eagled-eyed as mine?
In running, they say, “vary the terrain.” Roads, trails, hills, flats. Different types of terrain develop your fitness in different ways. I recently found this tidbit applicable to… yoga teaching. Stymied by Dog pose In winter I taught a small class at a community centre. Whether due to demographics or to coincidence, all of my students…… Continue reading Vary the terrain
During my Lonely Planet trip to Hawaii last winter, I taught a few yoga poses to my parents, especially my dad. He’s healthy and fit, but his posture needs an overhaul. His lumbar arch is too flat, while his thoracic spine too curved. Kyphosis. I admit that I was a pain, prodding my unassuming father to…… Continue reading Yogaphobic and yogaphilic people
Yesterday Tara Parker-Pope wrote “An Older Generation Falls Prey to Eating Disorders” in her New York Times health column. It caught my eye because it profiles a 58-year-old yoga teacher who developed anorexia in her late 30s. “At 53, carrying just 85 pounds on her 5-foot-3 frame,” Parker-Pope writes, “Ms. Shaw checked herself in to…… Continue reading The secret lives of yoga teachers
I take a weekly practice class with my main Iyengar teacher, a highly regarded “teacher’s teacher.” Today she was out of town; thus a sub (Iyengar-certified, Intermediate Junior I) taught her class. In general, students are disappointed when there’s a sub. Experienced students, especially, are picky and want to spend time and money only on…… Continue reading The rudeness of yoga teachers
I teach a couple of Iyengar yoga classes at a donation-based Yoga for the People studio. Here, students attend on a drop-in basis, and most are unfamiliar with Iyengar yoga. Recently, a woman dropped in for the first time. With a decade-long background in vinyasa yoga, she was neither newbie nor expert, and I instructed…… Continue reading Criticism and praise in yoga classes
Among my favorite yoga blogs is Jessica Berger Gross’s Enlightened Motherhood, a Yoga Journal blog. Recently I was reminded of her August 11, 2010, post, “Don’t Be a Baby: And Other Things Not to Say to Your Child (Or to Your Yoga Students),” in which she contemplates whether it’s ever appropriate to offer parenting advice to…… Continue reading Is it ever OK to give advice to strangers?
Sometimes, my words as a yoga teacher have a life of their own. Recently I was pleased to receive this email message from a student: “You had advised us during the last class of the summer session to pick three poses, do them every day, and see what happens. I picked plank, warrior 1, and dandasana against a wall…… Continue reading The power of words: Part III