On Monday, I had the pleasure of sitting down with my teacher to get some more details about what to expect when teaching Mysore-style, which I’ll be starting this upcoming Monday, February 12th at 5:30am.
As part of my preparation for teaching Monday morning Mysore class, I had the opportunity to help my teacher give adjustments in the shala this week (note: ‘shala’ is Ashtangi-talk for yoga studio; it means ‘home’ in Sanskrit). This involves observing everyone’s practice to ensure their safety, providing support/encouragement, and giving any hands-on adjustments that are needed.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when assisting in the shala. In a led class, every student is practicing the same pose, so it’s easy to determine who could use an adjustment. In the organized chaos of the mysore room, everyone’s practice looks a bit different and moves at a different pace. Because of that, you can’t just walk up to someone and give them a one-size-fits-all adjustment. It is so important to be mindful of what that individual’s practice looks like on that particular day. Some days, I love receiving the assist to grab my ankles in wheel pose, but other days my body just says no. It’s crucial to be able to read your students’ breath to determine how much they can handle, but it’s just as important that they know their own bodies and trust you enough to be able to say ‘no.’
My experience assisting in the shala was (ironically) breathtaking. At one point, I had to step back and and take a moment to just be present to what I was witnessing. These intrepid individuals wake up every single morning at 5am to come work on themselves. They do the hard, internal work that not many people can commit to doing. They know it’s not about the poses but rather about the self-relevation that occurs as the practice literally shows you your own shortcomings. They crack themselves open and stare deeply into their own souls (even though they might not like what they see) with one goal in mind: spiritual awakening. Watching this, I noticed tears in my eyes.
I witnessed so much courage this week. It was a hard week for my personal practice, though. Assisting during Mysore meant I was left to do my practice alone. It made me realize how much I rely on my teacher and the other students to stay focused throughout my practice. It also made me appreciate how much time and energy my teacher dedicates to helping us grow. Finding balance in this new role will not be easy, but it will be worth it.
More next week!