07 March 2009

yoga in the real world

When I told a show-biz yogi who shall remain nameless that sometimes I teach in places where there are no props, she said with a sniff, "I don't teach in THOSE places anymore...." Well, now. Maybe one of these days I will have permanently traded up my yoga teaching venues sans any dysfunctional yoga studio owners of course. But in the meantime I look upon my teaching experiences with great affection because I learn from all of them.

This morning I was teaching my private class in my house and the security system's alarm started screaming. There had been a thunderstorm with a huge lightening flash over my house (talk about raising the kundalini) and shortly thereafter the alarm went off. And when I say screaming, I mean the sound feels like a drill going through my ears into the middle of my brain. It makes your teeth bleed. My students looked at me with a "what the hell is that?" look and I ran downstairs and tried to shut it off. No luck. Still screaming. I went back up to my home yoga shala and told them not to worry, no one is breaking in and nothing is on fire. Then it stopped. Then it started again. By this time all I could was laugh.

I ran back downstairs and called the security company. They told me that the power must have gone out momentarily or there was a power surge and the system was rebooting itself. As I talked to the security company the message on the control box showed everything back to normal. I could stop grinding my teeth. I told the security person that the alarm had gone off while I was teaching a yoga class. She thought that was hilarious.

Good thing I practice mindfulness meditation: "screaming alarm feels like this..."

Yesterday afternoon I taught to 20 musicians of a symphony orchestra in the massive basement of their auditorium. As they sat in stillness before savasana I heard massive doors open. I watched a janitor come in pulling a massive industrial size garbage can behind him on a platform with wheels that obviously needed lots of oil. I saw the janitor and smiled, thinking back when I used to teach regularly in THOSE places.

Two other people walked in and opened the doors of a massive closet, the size of a room. The storage closet was lined with shelves of liquor bottles and the man and the woman rolled out two bars which I'm sure were for the audience for last night's performance. By this time the students were in savasana. After class I told them that this was the first time anybody set up a bar in back of the room while I was teaching.

Years ago I taught for a park district. I taught in their community center in a large a multi-purpose room with a stage. Saturday morning class, all the women up in downward facing dog -- "BREATHE, WATCH YOUR BREATH...." In walk two uniformed policemen. I was the only one who saw them because everyone had their butts in the air, eyes closed. "Everyone come down into child's pose...hello, officers...." Twenty heads jerk up.

"We're just here to get the lectern,", i.e., the one that was up on the stage.

"That's nice, officers. I thought you were here to strip-search us."

The men in blue laughed as they hustled the lectern across the stage, down the stage steps, across my teaching space, and into the room next door, the door slamming behind them. Of course.

Yoga teacher trainings don't teach you how to handle these things.

Do you want to hear about teaching next to bagpipe practice and above a dog obedience class? Fortunately these two things were not occurring at the same time.

There is no sound on earth worse than bagpipe PRACTICE, not even a screaming burglar alarm. Think about it.

A day in the life of a yoga teacher.

Oh, yeah. I've paid my dues.


Anonymous said...

I love it!! All valuable lessons which enhance your practice...without interupptions in life how can u possibly learn patience...without patience how can you possibly know absolute love.
Thanks for sharing your stories today :)

Anonymous said...

In THOSE kinds of places, without props? Really? I did a yoga intensive in Thailand for four whole weeks, every day with no props. Best yoga I've ever done! ;)

Linda-Sama said...

svasti, just like yoga at KYM in Chennai: no mats, no props, no WHINERS!!

LOVE IT! THAT's real yoga!

Random Thoughts said...

Loved this post. Thank you for sharing. Keep it coming.

Grace said...

You don't live life in a peaceful yoga studio. Never better than yoga in the messy real world, I think.

Fernanda R. Lima said...

Hi Linda,

Have you seen this?

Tell me what you think about it...




Babs said...

I love the challenges that come with teaching yoga. And, I loved this post. It made me laugh! Glad to know I'm not the only one!

Anonymous said...

I cracked up when I imagined bagpipe practice. Good for you for keeping in touch with the bottom half of the chakras at the same time as the top!

Anonymous said...

I just think I wouldn't want to have a lesson with a yoga teacher who wasn't prepared to teach in 'those places' - whatever those places are. How sneery of them! 'Those places' are exactly where people need the yoga. I hate the way yoga is becoming more and more elitist and features 'show-biz' yogi's - what a contradiction in terms! I teach yoga to groups of 'those people' with no props and they appreciate it I can tell you! I spent 3 years teaching yoga voluntarily in a prison - with a room which had a concrete floor and very basic thin rubber mats. I'm glad you haven't sold out Linda - I like your blog a lot. I just wonder what the ethics are around teachers who have sold out - they are definitely not true to the spirit of yoga.

Linda-Sama said...

One of my first teaching jobs was teaching in a basement on a concrete floor at a community center. hard on the knees but got used to it!

Connie said...

Sounds like a strong practice in pratyahara!!! I love hearing about your experiences! Thanks for always sharing and making us laugh--with or without comedic props!!!!


Peace & Love.