While LIVE on our Mysore ZOOM, I flow through my morning practice with an acute awareness that my teacher is watching. Not only is she watching, she is waiting for me to finish up my second series already so that she can see what progress I’ve made in the third series poses she gave me last week.
But my practice is slow today and my coffee has yet to kick in. Gasp if you wish; I don’t care what you think. I NEED my COFFEE.
As I lay on my back, working to place my lower leg behind my shoulders, I notice the moon through the window in front of me. In the window of the adjoining bedroom, I can also see the sun’s blessed light. It’s lovely and a part of me wants to spend another 5-10 breaths in yoga nidrasana. But then I remember my teacher. She’s watching. I hear her call the name of one of the other students. The last time she called his name, he was at pasasana, and I was 3-4 poses ahead in the series. I can tell by her words that he is now working on pincha mayurasana. It is clear that today’s practice has not been flowing as steadily as it should. I suppose the time I spent crying BEFORE going into kapotasana slowed me up…a little. Yeah, that was unexpected.
“Okay Juls,” I tell myself (quietly, as my computer is no longer on mute), “just breathe and get moving.” I limp along to the end of second and arrive at third with 30ish minutes until my work meeting. I am sore but have more energy today than last week. I might go well. I mean, miracles DO happen. Right!
Third Series has been described as “Divine stability; sublime serenity.” Reading this description sure makes it sound nice. Right? And, it IS nice. But it’s also HARD. The journey to this point is far from stable or serene (without the added pressure of having it be divine or sublime on top of that). I’m not complaining; I asked for this and I am happy to take it on. Lord knows my side body is weak and could benefit from a little stability – and serenity. My teacher knows this as well.
Nonetheless, I must admit that the difficulty that I am experiencing feels foreign yet satisfying. It feels right to finally be working on creating stability in the side body. And although there are moments when I question if I really deserve to be have these poses, I am super grateful that my teacher has allowed me to go here.
The anxiety of preparing to “go live” for real – with people actually counting on me was akin to the 1st time I subbed a yoga class. The difference, was that they first time I was called to sub was about 30 minutes after I taught my final certification test out class. I didn’t have weeks to get hung up on what I would teach or say; I just had to do it. The process of trying to connect (literally to the stream while connecting to the students on the other end) is whole other beast. I feel like it shouldn’t be as hard as it has been. But I don’t know why it always seems to fall short.
My theme for today’s class was actually connection. After 10 minutes of waiting for an image of my practice space to be picked up on my phone and magically appear on my laptop across the room, I was feeling almost helpless. I’d tested over and over and over again. My sequence was set and intentionally simple enough for anyone to join in and flow with us. The problem was that when the connection showed, I closed my laptop as it was behind the stream and seemed like an added distraction. I thought it would throw me off and figured that my son would let me know if I dropped off. My bad, I guess.
I taught my class, oblivious to the people that I supposedly was connecting with. Had I kept an eye on the screen, I would have been able to read the comments, AND I would have seen that the stream was dropped. It’s a bit ironic — but it might take me a bit to find amusement about it. At the moment, I am still disappointed in myself. *sigh* So much for non-judgment.
Can I just say that I miss the old way of teaching? I miss my students. I miss seeing them on their mats in front of me, struggling to learn their names, hearing their breath, watching them move along to my words, and even on that occasion when someone gave a look of confusion so I knew to rephrase my instruction.
Hours ago, after discovering the lost connection, a little too late to make it right, I had resigned to the fact that I should stick to uploading pre-recorded flows to my YouTube channel. I feel comfortable with that; even though I may have to re-record or add voiceover to my videos, I seem to be able to control it better. The problem with giving up on going live is that I fear that if I don’t figure out how to make this online way of teaching work that I will be even more behind the 8-ball once we return to in person teaching again. So…I guess I will keep trying to reconnect.
In the meantime, here is a video which was recorded, edited, with voice over added, then uploaded.
On Wednesday, before stepping onto my mat, I connected to the Mysore zoom meeting and set up my phone to record my practice. My initial thought was that I might record a video of my practice through half primary series, then add voice over instruction later on. However, once I got going, my practice seemed to just flow.
This was not my usual experience. For one, I generally go straight into intermediate series after parsvotanasana, only doing primary series on Fridays. Once I got to navasana, I decided to keep going. And once I’d finished some semblance of setu bandhasana, I was inspired to continue to intermediate series. By the time I finished, I’d done all the poses in both series plus the bookends (surya namaskara, standing poses, and the closing sequence). About a 3 hour practice in total, and I was energized!
It sounds pretty good, eh? Well, it was far from perfection but the experience was pretty sweet. I somehow managed to get my feet into lotus during my karandavasana attempt, then burst into laughter when my derrière landed on my mat with a loud thud. A few poses later, I was thrilled to have lift off of both my feet and face in mayurasana. But my elbows pushing into my stomach caused an audible release of air from my butt. I laughed so hard that I lost the magical lift I’d achieved. Thank God my sound was muted on the zoom call.
And, it was all caught on video.
Since the beginning of the “Shelter in Place” Order, I have hardly left my house. Yet, in spite of all of the so called “social distancing” I feel a certain closeness as we find ways to stay connected with our communities. Breathe Together Yoga, the studio where I teach is asking us to come together to provide free online content for our students – and anyone else who wants it. So, I’ve created a YouTube Channel and am learning how to make videos and stream live content. It’s a new level of teaching and I am feeling a bit out of my comfort zone. Yet, I want to continue to be of service – so I am making a concerted effort to pick it up as quickly as I can.
On Saturday morning, I hiked out to my chosen location to “go live” for the 1st time. As it was the 13 year anniversary of my husband’s death, I had a bit on my mind – and I felt like sharing a bit of it with my viewers. You see, yoga played an important role in my grief journey. Because of that, I always imagined that I might find a way to pay it forward once I became a teacher. So, with my phone set up on a tripod, with my new wide-angle lens adapter and mic, I set up my stream and hit the red button to start the feed.
it said, so I ran to my mat and began to speak. It was a bit awkward at first but, given my inability to know if I had an audience or not, I kept on talking. The words began to tumble from my mouth, and tears even flowed for a bit of it. After I’d shared what I had gone there to share, I began to lead my invisible viewers in a short but sweet practice. The sprinkles turned to rain as I entered savasana so my rest was pretty brief. Then I hopped up to stop the video, only to find the “connecting” message remained. And it seemed that I had never quite connected…but I wasn’t sure.
So, I decided to get on my mat and move with my emotions. If it came out okay, I’d add a VoiceOver instruction and upload it. Here is how it turned out.
There is a few more videos on my channel and still more to come. But, I need inspiration in knowing my audience so please leave me a comment, “like” my post, and subscribe to my feed. Apparently, once I have 1K subscribers, I will be able to go live from my phone far easier. I am currently at 36, so I have a long way to go.
Whether I roll out my mat at the studio or at home, my focus is the same. It is one of gratitude. Yoga is a feeling practice. There is so many other feelings and emotions swirling around in my body and mind but these emotions are the ones I am bringing into focus. As I bring my attention to what is right in my life, the fear, uncertainty, pain, and other feelings fall away.
I am grateful for this beautiful life, my health, my sons’ (lives, love, health, happiness…), the close relationships with my extended family, our dog, my home, job, my practice, and the opportunity to share yoga to others (among so much more).
I invite you try it yourself. It is hard to be fearful when you are focused on gratitude. You may notice that, while in a state of gratitude, it is far easier to make important decisions, create a vision for what you want to manifest, or simply just enjoy the moment.