I had a great group come along for class yesterday afternoon. We did a practice designed for the legs and the âpana. We all had a good go at some standing balances, with a transition between two postures. And mostly everyone fell out of the poses at least once.
Teaching a class is a dynamic, fluid thing. I usually have drop-in groups, and of varying levels of experience. The skill of a teacher depends on being able to tailor the practice to the group and make it enjoyable and useful for everyone, while never straying from the essence of the teachings. This is called “pedagogy” and is the art of teaching.
I used the falling out of the poses to teach some yoga philosophy. I used the Sanskrit words “Ahimsa” and “Santosha” to help people understand how to deal with things like falling out of poses.
Ahimsa means non-violence. I use this word in the context of not allowing violent self-critiquing thoughts to arise. It is common to sigh in frustration when we can’t do something, say to ourselves “I always fall” or “I will never get it” or “I am useless”. We use ahimsa, which is one of the five Yamas of yoga, to practice peaceful, non-harming inner (and outer) dialogue.
Santhosha is one of the five Niyamas and of my favourite Sanskrit words. It means contentment, enjoyment more or less. Fall out of a pose? hahahah! Use Santosha to not want what others have, ie: don’t compare yourself to others, and be content with what you are.
Some people believe that the Universe is a big game, that it is all a joke. The archetype of the Trickster God is very common. Hermès, (AKA Mercury, my ruling planet) of the Greeks, was a trickster. Krishna was a trickster. The Raven of the Northwest Coast Indigenous peoples is aso a trickster. When you start to think of checks and balances in life as jokes, as something to laugh at, it all gets a bit lighter.
You see, it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it. Fail and take it lightly, step wrong, then do a little shuffle and get back on the beat. Use non-violent inner dialogue to correct yourself, but not castigate. Use good humour to just take it as a little joke. Don’t put that strenuous face on in yoga, have fun.
Taint What you Do, It’s the Way That You Do It, as the old song goes. Here is a delightful live version of that old song, recorded by Sedajazz just up the road in beautiful Valencia.