“One of my goals in life is to do the slowest Primary Series anywhere… rather than the quickest”. Richard Freeman

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Teaching or Sharing

Recently the question of whether I'm attempting to teach yoga/ashtanga has come up and I promised a post where I would explore the issue.

Coming from a Philosophy background, having taught it for a few years at University, been a Schoolteacher at a prep school in England and an English teacher in Japan as well as a teacher trainer, it's a juicy topic you'd think I'd jump at. Over the last couple of days I've had all kinds of arguments develop in my head, but to be honest, I really can't be bothered with it.

I personally feel I'm just sharing my own experience of practice. Having gained a lot from the online community whether through comments, other blogs or articles I naturally feel the urge to share a little in return

I present my practice here, as it unfolds, the successes as well as the failures, wrong turns. I make suggestions and when people write to me, as they often do, or send me videos asking for advice, I give it based on my own experience on what is working for me. If I come across a blog where someone is working on something that I've already achieved or am having some success with, and they are asking for help with it, then I'll perhaps offer some suggestions.

In my profile I state my background, I don't claim to be a Yoga teacher and anyone who receives a post from me is most likely going to click on my name, be redirected here and see who it is that's making the suggestion. Give the readers some respect, they know the difference between me and Swenson say, or an Authorized/Certified teacher and someone who just practices.

In the end it doesn't matter whether you or I want to call it teaching or sharing, are my suggestions useful to you at this time, does it help you at all, if so great, if not, well never mind, sorry I couldn't be more helpful good luck finding some other ideas elsewhere.

I state this on my profile and have since day one,

' I've never been to an Ashtanga, or any other yoga class as there were none nearby. I've learnt from books and videos.'

Actually that's no longer true I went twice to a Mysore Self practice Shala and received a handful of assists. Apart from that my experience is of three years of self reflecting practice, most of which is documented here.

Apart from those two visits, I've learned Primary and Intermediate (and can work through an untidy awkward 3rd) without any assists and adjustments. I bind at the wrist in Mari D and Pasasana and grab my heels in Kapotasana. I come down and back up again in Karandavasana and solo in Supta vajrasanaand, I dropback and come up, I jump back and through straight legged and crossed, half lotus and full. I've learned to do all this without recourse to the traditional means and without receiving any injuries. No pulling, pushing or twisting me into poses by anyone else. And if someone else doesn't have recourse to traditional means either then perhaps they might find that experience useful, or not.

And of course there are a lot of things I don't do that well and I occasionally mix up the order of this and that, starting on the wrong side with Pasmasana comes to mind. But again if you want to check how things are practiced at the moment in Mysore and you don't have recourse to a teacher then you can check out a Kino DVD, I did for my Primary and am for my Intermediate.

Of course they can see the difference between their body and my own, and make their own decision whether they want to ask me for advice or follow any suggestion I make. There's a lot of advice out there on the Internet, you can be pretty sure of mine that anything I suggest I've at least tried it.

Call it teaching if you want and maybe the tone does gets a bit unintentionally teachy/preachy (amused by that thanks YC :) especially when I'm talking about the less well known Vinyasa Krama, but I still consider it just sharing, ideas and experience.

In the end I'm just some guy with a blog, rambling on about his practice

11 comments:

  1. Hey Grimmly
    I've been reading your blog (off and on!) for ages, but don't usually get to the comments ... (usually I read it at work and I've got too much to do to get into that).

    But I've always taken your blog for what it is - you sharing your progress/experiences in your yoga practice! So I don't really know what the fuss is about - but just keep on blogging and doing what you do! It's great!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Blogs are just blogs. If I walked into a yoga shala and you were standing at the front of the room and began to lead the chant, then I'd assume you were teaching.

    ReplyDelete
  3. IMHO, you've been sharing and thanks for that.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I feel a bit bad, in the first draft of this post I wrote 'take it or leave it', actually that's what I meant to write but when I looked at it later, what I'd actually written was 'take it or leave' and then went on to say if you don't like something you can always change the channel or leave the movie theater etc. Think I was getting a bit irritated by then, bad Yogi.

    But of course I don't want anyone to leave just because they disagree with something I've written. I appreciate it when someone pulls me up on something and lets me know that it's practiced differently in Mysore now, for example, or that they don't agree with my interpretation of this or that. I'm happy to receive criticism and be engaged in discussion or debate just as long as it's reasonably civil and respectful towards not just me but anyone else contributing in the comments.

    Thank you for your comments, don't think I'll be leading the chant anytime soon.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi there,
    For the most part, "blogging" is a mess of self-indulgent rambling.
    Your efforts have been articulate and, it appears, carefully constructed. As you have stated a record of your progress and discoveries doing hatha yoga.
    I've enjoyed them and have been pretty impressed with your progress.
    No one is forced to read anything online. If I had to agree with everything I read, my head would explode.
    As long as you enjoy what your doing, keep at it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think that most people like to read things they disagree with - it's a lot more exciting and challenging than reading what you agree with. I know that my favorite blogs are not the ones that I agree with, but the ones that tweak me in some way...they make me wake up in that way.

    As for me saying "teachy/preachy", I need to clarify. What I said was that you can be a BIT teachy/preachy at times. I really only meant AT TIMES and A BIT. Generally speaking, you write about your experience, and NOT in a teach/preachy way. The teachy/preachy things tends to come up in OTHER contexts, like when you are reviewing products. Personally, I can't understand why you would give props to products here without having been asked to give a review and being given the product for free...in which case you would be honor-bound to reveal that you had been given a freebie).

    ReplyDelete
  7. One more thing about comment moderation, I understand the need to moderate, but I hate Blogger's moderation system because as soon as you leave a comment, it disappears, and you can't take it back or edit it. If I could make a request, it would be that you moderate AFTER allowing the comment to post. This way, your commenters wouldn't have their comments disappear while waiting for your approval, during which time, we can re-read them and decide, well, maybe I didn't say that the way I wanted to, or whatever. It's the way I do it...people can post what they want, but I will delete what I don't want.

    ReplyDelete
  8. And there it went again!!! Feel free NOT to post this!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for that Anon,appreciate it.

    No YC teachy/preachy was fine, was amused, I'm sure I can be, I was a teacher for ten years bound to slip into character occasionally, especially when the line is so vaguely drawn. ( but thanks for adding the 'BIT' )

    I like reviewing things. I always like reading them myself. I only tend to review things I use, you can see the mats and towels in my Videos. I did get the eQua as a thank you after Manduka saw my mat reviews. I've reviewed it and compared it with the yogitoes and stated what I felt were the good as well as the not so good points. I used that towel everyday for about a year. I tend to use it now for Primary and the Yogitoes and clone for 2nd.

    Book and videos are the same just ones I use and how I think about them. If I was sent one to review I would/will state it.

    I'll look into moderation again. I can't remember if I had it right from the start or after I got a couple from people trying to promote themselves or their site. plus there was a little friction way back when a couple of commentators started being disrespectful to each other. Those are the only comments I moderate unless it's something I really think someone will regret in the morning and I don't want them to embarrass themselves.

    the worst ones are when someone is making a really good point but then perhaps go a little far and you just wish you could moderate one line rather than lose the whole thing.

    Maybe wordpress has a better system than blogger.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Grimmly,
    I love that you "share" your experience. I got into yoga via dvds and videos, eventually worked my way into a teacher training and taking class on a regular basis. But my real love of yoga came from learning to do Bakasana (probably not very well, as I look back on it) in my living room. I felt so strong and empowered, and like I had really achieved something for myself. So I really respect your personal choices in this regard.

    And this is a whole can of worms, but I kind of think that learning poses without too much adjustment is the way to go. This forces you to use your own muscles and internal levers (as opposed to the external leverage of someone else jamming down on you) to get to where you need to be. A good adjust is invaluable, but you're going to have to work it out on your own eventually anyway. Ashtanga blasphemy, I know. But there it is.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you Liz. Does give you a great deal of satisfaction nailing it yurself, not very yogic of us perhaps. Will have to check the sutras on that.

    Yeah this adjust/assist thing. I hardly dare go there but it does give me pause. What is it for. If you can do it eventually without, then does that make it just a shortcut, helping you get there quicker....but if that's the case.............

    That said the hands on while learing tic tocks and chakra bandhasana are very appealing.

    ReplyDelete

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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