Ask a stupid question….

…well, you know the rest.

And yet, I can’t help myself. Perhaps I might stress that this next one is rhetorical: Is it really true that if I want the next pose, then my teacher will withhold it from me to teach me a lesson about ego, attachment, what yoga about, whatever?

And by rhetorical, I mean, I don’t care what the answer is.

You see, it really doesn’t matter what the answer is because if any teacher of mine ever tried to pull that crap on me, I would be out of there as fast as you can say “self-respect” or, faster still, “ego”.

I’m not a big fan of the tough love approach to learning. Perhaps it has its place sometimes. But I have never in my life, as a lawyer training junior lawyers, as a mother teaching her younguns, as a yoga teacher teaching her students, or otherwise, found that the ego-busting, humble-pie-eating model of teaching does much of anything besides turn the student off.

Nor do I believe that my own teacher withholds poses for the purpose of breaking the ego or teaching about patience. Whenever I have mastered a pose, I have promptly been moved on to the next. My failure to move through the Primary Series faster is purely a function of my lack of joint mobility. It is not due to a failure to practice, or an excess of practice. It is not due to an overblown ego, nor is it due to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. It is a function of where my body is at due to where my body has been. No one is holding me back. And no one is pushing me. I am simply learning the poses, one at a time until I master them, and then, I will receive the next. Or so my experience shows.

My own experience is my only evidence, but heck, that’s good enough for me. Frankly, it doesn’t much matter to me if Sir withheld a pose from you or kept you from practicing Second or Third. And by you, I mean, not me.

I am a human in the year 2006 in a country where “I want” is often followed by “so I will get”, in a city where “I want” seems to know no bounds. I am an adult who was raised by parents who taught me that I could do just about anything I wanted to do as long as I worked at it. And I learned to be proud of my accomplishments and to long for accomplishment. If anyone tried to impede my progress in yoga just to teach me to feel less attached to accomplishment, just to stomp on my ego, just to teach me some kind of a yoga lesson, that would be tantamount to a betrayal. My assumption is that I am in the shala to learn yoga, not to be beaten to an emotional pulp.

I signed up for Ashtanga, not E.S.T.

I look forward to experiencing some hardwon pride over my physical improvements in yoga and to putting them in perspective in my own head through my study of yoga, not through the sadistic countertransference of some yoga teacher, who I imagine doesn’t really exist except in the transference of some angry, paranoid, disgruntled former student.

YC

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4 Responses to Ask a stupid question….

  1. Vanessa says:

    I don’t know the answer to your question, but I thought it would be interesting to point out that this seems to have hit a very raw nerve.

    And another thought: not long ago you posted about how asana practice without spirituality (as in yogilates) was not really yoga but just exercise. But now you are adscribing the next pose to pure physical ability. Interesting, huh?

    Not trying to upset you, just pointing out a few things.

    For what is worth, I know that when I try to manipulate my teacher into giving me a new pose (by being kinda loud, or hanging out after my last pose and before backbends, stuff like that), it NEVER works. And he has told me that he notices when people do these things (he hasn’t said whether they have an effect on his choices, though).

  2. Anonymous says:

    WOW – hit a nerve is right. Boy did I nail it or what?!
    You totally missed the point. Gosh YC – don’t be so hard on yourself. Keep practicing, keep showing up to practice with Sir and enjoy the journey. That’s it – that’s the point. If you are struggling with the practice, it really has very, very little to do with the practice at all…

  3. "YC" says:

    This does hit a nerve, but I am not sure what it’s stirring up in me. I don’t for a second think that I should be further along in the series, and I wouldn’t ever consider asking for a new pose or silently hinting about a new pose. I really want to put the struggle behind me before I move on. One or two poses to struggle with are enough for me per practice.

    So, then what is it that I am all jangly about? Prhaps I am jealous that others get to try new poses, while I am doing the same damn thing over and over again. Perhaps it’s bringing up some “feeling sorry for myself” feelings that I normally stuff way below the surface. Perhaps it’s the suggestion that a teacher would play mind games (even though I know that Sir would not do that with me) that I find detestable – it reminds me of stuff I went through growing up???

    I don’t know…I do know that yoga has a great knack for bringing up emotions.

    To address the spirituality/physicality thing that V brings up: I am really only reiterating what Sir has told me about my practice. He has never suggested to me that I have spiritual/emotional baggage that keeps my shoulders from rotating easily, and he knows that I am open to those suggestions. If there is a spiritual/emotional component, I suppose that the physical aspects of what I am doing will address it. Other than that, what can be done within the realm of an Ashtanga practice?

  4. samasthiti says:

    Wow.
    I don’t think that you should read that much into it. You cannot do the pose. Your teacher is “traditional” school of thought. You do not get pose until you can “do” that pose to his idea of you getting it.
    Maybe you will never do the pose to his liking.
    What will you do then?
    What if you are there for another 8 months?

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