Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Those Who Can't Do, Shouldn't Be Teaching...

I could not do a headstand yesterday.

Let me preface this with a note: I have been headstanding for years, and while there are certain poses in my practice that I have surrendered to being unable to get into anymore (goodbye, Warrior 3) this is not one of them. This should have nothing to do with my hip. This has nothing to do with my hip as far as I can tell. This is pure metaphor in action: I am out of balance.

It is a commonly known fact among yoga teachers that to teach effectively, you have to be fully engaged in your own practice. The community is peppered with tales of the teacher who stopped practicing and then imploded and disappeared off the map. We all know it in our bodies to be true. And that's not to say that you have to be a master yogi, Queen-Of-All-You-Survey to be a good teacher; in fact sometimes the teachers who have their own challenges to deal with can be more intuitively compassionate than the gymnasts and dancers to whom the practice comes naturally.

So I'm not giving myself a hard time for being limited. But headstand? My old foe-turned-friend? The first one who showed me how to overcome being afraid of the world of upside down? Whither have you gone? Will you ever be back?

This all in the context of the upcoming date after which my practice will be banished to gonzoland for a good long while, as I relearn how to walk. And I start to wonder if I'm crazy for doing this whole thing to myself. And then I try to walk, and it hurts all the way down to my knee, and I remember that this little body's not doing that well, and left on its own will only continue to deteriorate increasingly rapidly. And if I'm very lucky I remember my gratitude list and the great good fortune I have of being born into a life that puts me in the hands of the country's best doctors who can actually do something for me.


Nadine Fawell said...

Oh honey, now must be such a hard time for you, but I think you get special dispensation to continue teaching. Restorative yoga is still yoga you know! I hardly ever practice headstand any more because, although I love it, I have some neck and shoulder issues and it makes them worse. Headstand or comfort....Mmmmm, tough choice.

Sarah said...

Nadine thank you so much for your sweet words. From a teacher, it means a lot to me!

Linda (Sama) said...

I am a yoga teacher and two years ago I ended up in the hospital on Thanksgiving Day with a supposed blocked small intestine. As it turned out, it was gastroenteritis, but that's another story!

anyway, everyone from the ER doc to the midnight nurse told me the worst possible stories of people with twisted guts -- ending up with colostomies.

my usual Buddhist equanimity started to disappear and in a morphine induced haze I started to freak out: WHAT IF I COULDN'T TEACH?!? WHAT WOULD I DO?!?

A mantra started in my head...I AM NOT THIS BODY, I AM NOT THIS BODY, I AM NOT THIS BODY....

Then I remembered a Yoga Journal story about a teacher who was in a horrible car accident and became paralyzed from the waist down. She taught from a wheelchair. She could not demonstrate ANY poses, but her students thought, and she also thought, that she became a "better" teacher because she could not demonstrate poses any longer.

Remember...you are not your body.....

sweet peace to you.

om mani pedme om