All teaching, all life, can be boiled down to these three phrases shared at a reading by poet Jane Hirshfield:
Everything is connected.
Noticing requires time and quiet. Preparing for change is a slow and steady process.
This is why I believe in teaching yoga one-on-one and in small groups.
Tradition has it that in ancient times, yogis would attach themselves to great houses, serving as teachers, advisors and, healers….The pupil’s undivided attention was fully reciprocated by the teacher. Focus, attentiveness, kindness with firmness, and many of the interpersonal virtues in yoga’s Ten Commandments, the Yamas and Niyamas, were taught by precept and example in these two-person sessions. The parties got to know each other and relationships naturally formed.
– Loren Fishman, MD, from Yoga and Breast Cancer by Ingrid Kollak, RN, PhD and Isabell Utz-Billing, MD
Among past learning and teaching, occurrences stand out:
- Having a one-on-one with a yoga teacher early in my studies, 20 years ago. No one else showed for her class and she gave me full attention. We met in a small carpeted office. She took the time to build my confidence in mountain pose.
- Having another one-on-one with a yoga teacher whose class also didn’t “fill.” She placed me in savasana for 20 minutes, alone in the room, trusting me to myself.
- Guiding a high school junior into creating a powerful thesis for her final paper, the white board scrawled with ideas over hours after school ended, in the spacious stillness of a large public school that follows when even the coaches and custodians have packed up for the day.
- Sitting beside a yoga student in his or her own home, or mine, as she counts her breaths, tells me what she’s feeling, and finds her way into a balance of effort and ease with each pose.
- Seeing how a student’s alignment tilts him out of equanimity, showing him, and the delight on his face as he learns.
- A mother and daughter who sit in a class of two, their sanctioned time together in the week.
Who has taken the time to teach you in your field of study? Thank them, in thought, word or deed.
How did they model for you the art of attention, the significance of change, the links among ideas?