The first time we bring ourselves in contact with something…
a new city
a space we’ve never visited before
someone’s home space
wearing that favourite jacket for the first time
The experience is transferable to the moment when we decide to try out a ‘new’ practice, establish a new habit, or explore a ‘new’ way of doing things…
New referring to something we haven’t meet or we do not hold any memories around the activity or the subject, stumbling across the white canvas and starting a new piece from there.
Can you bring back a moment in life when you experienced something for the first time?
How receptive can we stay and how can we set ourselves up to see everything we experience with the fresh, almost timid eyes of first times?
For example, this moment now, is all full of newness.
Not two breaths are the same.
One of the parts that make my work in the world more enjoyable is the opportunity to teach yoga to absolute beginners, and occasionally to children, normally new students absorb a lot and are naturally open to deep dive and embrace the new experience, there’s no pre-set knowledge, only experience. Often times they get surprised at their abilities, if one allows and gently guides them to their very own juicy spot.
In an ideal scenario the first experience should always leave a pleasant, encouraging and evocative after taste or footprint in the pupil. If there’s something for them to discover there, they should leave the room filled with curiosity and wander.
The topic I’d like to touch through this blogpost is about the importance of the first contact, and how at times as yoga teachers (and it actually applies to any specific ‘role’ we might adopt in life), often get so deep into our ongoing subjects of study or expertise that sometimes (and probably without intending to) create a disconnect from the moment and lose the magical link of presence with those around us.
As modern yoga grows and expands across the whole world, each day we have more individuals walking along the yoga path, choosing to become instructors. This is a beautiful event, as I do believe that if we all incorporate sincerely some of the yoga principles in our lives every day there’s plentiful valuable aspects being added to our already complete human existence.
However, with this growth, specially in the western mindset there’s a marked tendency these days to use overly-technical language and subjects that at times are disconnected from the public in everyday yoga classes.
To name a few: extensive talk on the complexity of the nervious system, arrive with a lesson plan in mind and follow without even taking a moment to see how is all landing, use excess anatomy interpretation and in resume, too much speech or filling the space with unnecessary explanations and with this leaving little space for silence, grace and ultimately creating the conditions and a moment for self-exploration where one can actually tune in and listen. The topic might hold added value to some extent, but on the other side these might create a sense of confusion or overwhelm to those who are deciding to dip their feet into new waters, after all…
What is it what we most seek when we go to yoga?
Maybe… feeling at peace, a calmer state, clarity, more comfort wearing, using and carrying our bodies in life.
And more, but maybe at least one of the mentioned above hold some common ground for many of us as practitioners.
It isn’t easy to work towards simplicity and from experience, becoming overly analitic can be part of the path towards simplicity.
It isn’t rare that those guides with longer trayectories can englobe so much in a small sentence to transmit a particular message based on what is happening in the now… and how powerful that sentence becomes when is dropped… bringing us the days when we leave the class vibrating on the ‘AHA’ moment over that sentence we heard, that inexplicably tends to feel very intimate and personal.
Neti-Neti. This doesn’t mean that as guides – we can not deep dive into a particular subject of study and exploration or should ever consider to become mediocre with the words, or for being open to nicely elaborate around a subject that holds relevance to the day if the atmosphere allows and the public is ready to bite into what we share, but the invitation I leave is…
How present can we be to set aside any mind files, any personal seeks… and return
again and again
to the eternal Present,
the mystery of the now
The intuitive teaching
…and guide from there!
and more interestingly… can we stay there? (roles aside)
I decided to write on the subject after a few conversations with people, loved ones and students, some of these topics where brought up a few times when describing their first encounters with yoga and I found of value to bring the reflection up to the surface.
To sintetize the whole article I have chosen this phrase by Einstein:
PS: I’d love to hear about your experience on the subject either as a teacher or as a student of yoga or any transferable skill, have you come across a similar experience?
What memories do you have from your first moments on the mat? How did you leave the room?
Featured image from Pinterest.