I can be very opinionated, but I can also change my mind.

Today, due to scheduling issues and a desire to keep up my practicing mojo, which I have been re-cultivating of late, I found myself with a need to practice and not many choices. In fact, I really had no choice except to go back to that very same teacher whom I dissed on this blog several weeks back. Who shall go nameless, people. (You sneaky little commenting people, you. And you wonder why I moderate comments? Naming names and shit like that. Not gonna happen on my watch. Not gonna.)

I ruminated for a while, polled my facebook friends, and finally determined that the only way to practice with said teacher without exuding a potent mixture of anxiety and rage in every drop of perspiration, was to ask said teacher, very nicely, not to teach me. Notice, I said “not to teach me”. Some suggested that I ask said teacher not to “adjust” me. But that wouldn’t really help, since it is not so much the adjustments but the constant interruptions – to reteach me the vinyasas and ujaii breathing and to tell me that I need to use my bhandas and that my “fancy armbalance jumpbacks” might be fun but are not acceptable – that made my practice so unbearable the last time I was in this teacher’s presence.

Full of determination, I walked into the room, ran into a CT Shala friend, chitchatted for a moment and then went and hid in the back. Arthur, who was assisting, came to me after my first Surya Namaskar and told me that this was not acceptable to the teacher. I needed to come up front where I could be….taught. I scoffed and said, “I’ve been through that before, and I want to not.”

“You’ll have to explain that yourself…” he said, and justifiably so.

And so I did, but nicely: “I was hoping to just do some self-practice today, since I am limited on time and kind of out of sorts today.” The response was gracious. And I felt glorious. I practiced my heart out.

Until Marichyasana B, when I got assisted.

What the???

Then Supta Kurmasana. Since Val usually crosses my right ankle over my left over the back of my neck, I was a bit dismayed to have my left foot crossed over my right over my head. But I strived to not take it as an insult to my leg-behind-head prowess, and I moved on.

To the next pose, Garba Pindasana, which got heckled. “Too much neck and head, not enough bhandas”. And then assisted! I was praying it wouldn’t come to that, but it did. I got rolled. And then I got propped in Kukkutasana. Humbling. But why? Why???? These are the salad poses for me. Heckle my Kapotasana. My Parsva Dhanurasana. But Garba P???

And the heckling continued. Heckling. Hectoring. Whatever. Until it was time for backbends. And then I just collapsed in a heap on the floor and said, “My arthritis is acting up, and I can’t straighten my wrists today.”

Strangely, or not so strangely when I think about it, that was the moment when it all turned aroun 180 degrees. Suddenly, I was being given incredibly solid advice to which I could totally relate. Suddenly, the heckler was gone, and a teacher was there.

Together, we pieced together the fact that my diet has been high in tomatoes and mangoes lately, which are high in acid, which may be contributing to inflammation.

So, long story short, I still do not enjoy practicing with this teacher. No how. But I do believe that this teacher has something to teach, nevertheless.



10 Responses to I can be very opinionated, but I can also change my mind.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know why, but I find myself enjoying your blog quite a bit. Thanks.

    Re the moment of 180 degree change – did the teacher change, or did you? Sounds to me like the teacher stayed the same and you changed. Possible? Re the garba p – maybe you *do* need more bandha and less neck and shoulder. So what? What’s the big deal?



  2. Anonymous says:

    Your teacher sounds wonderful to me. He sounds like one of the more traditional teachers. I have a teacher like that also. He makes you realise there is no such thing as ‘salad pose’. You can’t relax and go autopilot in any poses. There is always something more to work on in even the supposedly easiest poses. He took apart my trikonasa over a period of months. I think he lost a few students who just want to progress in the series, who can’t understand why they are being taken right back when they are half way through the second series.

    You are very lucky to have met this teacher.

  3. LI Ashtangini says:

    I think I’ll take your word for it 🙂

  4. yogahammy says:


    Sounds like you have a karmic challenge with this teacher!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I always hear a lot of anxiety in your posts. Rage and anxiety. I wonder how you can achieve a calm and still mind when you are so busy evaluating your teacher: feeling aversion, and reacting. And the fact that you strongly object to certain assists makes it sound as though you think, “I’m not the sort of person who needs to be assisted in pose X, Y, or Z.” It makes it sound like you have a very strong sense of who you are and what you’re all about. But who knows, maybe there’s more to you than that identity you’ve given yourself.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why spend the money and time to attend class with a teacher you so clearly dislike? Especially in Mysore style where the feedback and adjustments are so intimate. Too much so, IMHO. Glad to be done with that bullshit!

  7. Anonymous says:

    i just went through something similar. i am getting over an injury to my L5 sacrum area where my spine and sacrum get twisted slightly in opposite directions. i have had a 5- 6 day a week ashtanga practice for the past 5 years. I went to a studio that advertised a “self practice” session that is seperate from mysore and figured i’d give that a try to just be in that environment because my practice has gone to shit since dealing with the injury. Unfortunately there was a “supervising” teacher and i didn’t know this. she would not leave me alone and then told me when i was “done”, way before i was ready. It was so disheartning.

    i also think my injury has come from being in the primary series with all those backbends for way to long. Does anyone know any second series poses i might add to my home practice to help that L5 area?

    please feel free to email me at nycashtangi@yahoo.com

    and Lauren–good for you for giving that teacher another shot, i totally know where you are coming from.


  8. Anonymous says:

    p.s. i have a really great osteopath that i go to who has fixed this problem each time, but it still seems to be something that gets aggravated by practice

  9. Anonymous says:

    nyca even baby backbends


    can help. make sure that you spend some time stretching your quads. if your teacher can’t give you this basic information, you should definitely find a new one. ashtanga teachers are often suspiciously lacking in some anatomical basics, and sadly unwilling to modify anyone’s practice sufficiently. i used to think the practice was just inherently dangerous but it has more to do with how poorly it is being disseminated now. do yourself a favor and study yoga with some teachers that really teach!

  10. Anonymous says:

    to nyca

    Assuming you are in ny

    David Hollander teaches mysore at pure, and he is quite willing and able to work with injuries in a way that’s more respectful than that of some ashtanga teachers, but without making you stop too early. He has a different teaching lineage than some of the strict ayri teachers.

    also, michael gilbert, who is a vinyasa teacher at yogasutra, is good at working with back injuries and may be able to help.

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