Teacher Appreciation

HEY GUYS! Guess what? Today’s brand spanking new post is… not here!

Wait—WHAT?! But if it’s not HERE, where IS it?!

Why, it’s over on Elephant Journal! You can click right here to read it now!

I originally wrote it for this site, but then decided it should have a wider audience and was probably more appropriate over there. So, check it out! And please feel free to leave comments! My editor LOVES when people leave comments, so let’s give her something to get excited about! I mean, aside from her excitement over getting to correct my CONSTANT OVER-ZEALOUS USE OF THE CAPS LOCK KEY!!!

Anyhoo, it’s all about TEACHERS and our relationship with them! Hope you enjoy! More new-ness coming very soon…

NAMASTE!

Class #201: Serious Students

Friday, July 8  2pm

I sometimes wonder about myself as a student. I bet I’m the kind of student I would hate to teach. Not because of my work ethic. I work pretty hard. And not because I don’t pay attention. I do. Or because I cause trouble. I don’t.

The real reason then? Because I’m too quiet.

I know. You’re like WHAT? ALISON IT WOULD SEEM FROM THE WAY YOU WRITE IN THIS THING THAT YOU NEVER, EVER, EVER SHUT YOUR FREAKING MOUTH!

Well, that’s true once you get to know me. But when I’m in class? With a bunch of people I don’t know? And a TEACHER? Who may or may not be JUDGING ME AS A PERSON based on my performance in their class?*

I’m too serious, too non-participatory, and just WAY too quiet. I’m the kind of student that, if I were my teacher, I would never know what I was thinking, and would probably just assume based on my cold demeanor that I hated me.

Was that confusing? Go back and read it six or seven times…

Still confused? SIGH.

Ok, just know that I am the kind of student I hate to teach. Actually, I shouldn’t say hate. That’s a little strong; I never hated teaching anyone. But I am the kind of student that would confuse me as a teacher.

Ok, I’m TRYING to make it make sense! Gahhhh…

I had a student like this once actually, back when I was teaching Vinyasa. She was super quiet, never really spoke, but always took my class. I was convinced she probably hated me, yet every time I taught, there she was. Turned out she DID actually like me and she enjoyed my class, though I wasn’t sure for the longest time. It took a conversation about comedy, of all things, for me to realize it.

SEE? COMEDY BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER, AWWWW!

Anyway.

Class today was FULL of students that were freakishly similar—at least behavior-wise—to me. Quiet. Serious. Expressionless. Unmoving.

Don’t get me wrong, we were all technically proficient.

"WOW," Favorite Teacher said at one point, "Are you all models for Yoga magazine?!?"

Of course, being the type of students we are, no one responded. As far as I could tell, no one even cracked a smile. Or breathed, for that matter.

Tough room, eh?

The thing is you guys, I don’t WANT to be this way! Especially as an ex-teacher, I really APPRECIATE the ‘class clowns’ and ‘chatty students’ and ‘funny girls’ of the world. They’re a BLAST to have in class, whether you’re the teacher or the student. Having that one person there to lift the mood when things get tough, or provide a little comic relief every now and then? It’s PRICELESS, in the American Express commercial sense.

But for whatever reason, when I go to class SOMETHING happens in my brain and I change from my normal fun, funny, silly self, and get all OK, TIME TO BE PERFECT!!! and I stop breathing and start sweating and furrow my brow and grit my teeth and twist my mouth into a knot while I over-analyze everything the teacher says, every inflection of her voice, and every miniscule fiber of my own body.

Yeah, tough room.

As much as I try to change this, it seems it’s just not the way I’m wired. But I think, in a weird way, that’s why I NEED yoga so badly. Because every time I go to class and attempt to reach a perfect standard and find myself lacking, I’m reminded that YOU KNOW WHAT? IT’S JUST NOT THAT DEEP.

So I’m not perfect. So I fell out of Standing Bow yet again. The world didn’t end. Nothing terrible happened. I could probably… OMMIGOD.. crack a SMILE and still be ok… right? I mean, it doesn’t mean I don’t take this practice seriously! For god’s sake, even the Bikram dialogue references the “happy smiling face” that you SHOULD see when you look at yourself in the mirror. You guys, even BIKRAM, tough disciplinarian that he is, understands that it’s JUST not that deep!

FOR THE LOVE OF PATANJALI, IT’S ONLY YOGA!!!

(That guy looks he knows how to have a good time, right?)

These poses? It’s not about being perfect in them. It’s about working through them for the benefit of our minds and bodies. They’re meant to push us out of our comfort zone and into uncharted territory, to change the way we relate to challenges in our lives. And in that sense, I think the class we take, as well as the WAY we take it, are strikingly similar. Like two sides of the same neurotic coin.

So maybe as I learn through my physical practice that my anatomical and biomechanical shortcomings are not as tragic as I think they are, I’ll also learn through my class-taking practice that it’s ok to bring some of my fun, funny, silly, less-serious self into the room with me.

It’s ok to laugh, it’s ok to smile, it MIGHT even be ok to throw out a witty one-liner from time to time. It could even be FUN. It could be AMAZING! It could be HILARIOUS…!!!

Ummmm, yeah. But you know, maybe I won’t push it. At least not just yet.

*I know, I know, teachers don’t really do this. But my mind still seems to think there’s a chance that they MIGHT be…