Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Find Your Damn Big Girl Pants (she says to herself)

On the kundalini yoga video by Gurmukh, there is one part that always makes me laugh, and I quote her often when I am teaching.  There is this posture where you are seated and basically doing these big giant beautiful bird wings, and when you first learn this posture, it can create spontaneous cursing. It is hard. Your arms feel like bags of wet cement. That does not go away over the years. There are always days when this pose is hard, but there are days when it starts to feel effortless and that is why we practice.

Anyway, during this posture/movement, Gurmukh, says, basically, if you feel like stopping, don't!

When I say this in a class, it makes students laugh. They don't expect it. Yoga classes are so often about "being kind to your body and listening to its messages," and here I am telling you, "Right now? In this pose? POWER THROUGH and quit your whining!"

Am I a military drill sargent or what?  ((giggle))

No. But I am a proponent of utilizing this gift of will power that we have all been given. I am a proponent of pulling on your Big Girl Pants and Getting the Job Done. I am not soft in person. I am not soft when I teach. I pull your courage out of you no matter your resistance. That is my job. I am not going to let you get away with less than your best or your strongest.

(I sound all growly there, and I am, but I am also not. My students trust me or this wouldn't work.)

Okay...like, that is so totally how I teach other people, but then I am this total softy wimp when it comes to myself.

Physician heal thyself and all of that.  This is human, of course. I mean, most of us are better at seeing the way out for others. When it comes to ourselves, we tend to not notice the light switch resting under our hand in the dark room.

I know how to feel better. I know how to get better sleep. I know what I need to do every single day.

That doesn't mean I do it. It doesn't mean when I do do it that I am not kicking and screaming.

Where are your Big Girl Pants? Are you willing to pull them on or do you act like they are lost?


Eco Yogini said...

it's funny you wrote this post, just when I wrote a post about 'stopping' being the best yoga lesson I've ever learned.

I'm a little weary about pushing through something, just because I've injured myself that way.

At the same time, it really is about knowing your own body, your limits between pain and injury.

I honestly am not sure if I would trust all yoga students to intrinsically know this about themselves and wonder if having a teacher tell them to push through would be enough for some to go beyond pain into injury.

Although it's not YOUR responsibility as a teacher to be able to know the level for each student, I do think the teacher holds power- and it takes time to learn that balance...

anyhoo- great post- very thought provoking! thank you :)

Christine Claire Reed said...

And yet that would be a great example of the difference between "classical" yogas and Kundalini...it is virtually impossible to hurt yourself in Kundalini due to that NATURALNESS of the "postures," which aren't really postures but simple movements. The only pain will be the good, achy kind of pain, whereas, yes, the same advice in a hatha class could very well cause a truly serious injury.

And of course, that's not the point of the post. :) I think the yoga and spiritual worlds in general, in their quest for the "feminine," which they, for some reason associate with "gentle," has gotten soft and mooshy. We are stripping ourselves of power. I know a yoga teacher for example who is afraid of the WORD power. What is that!? I am woman, hear me freaking ROAR!

Louise said...

YES! This is what I love in kundalini (which I also teach). The warrior spirit! The power! It's so beautiful. I go to Gurmukh's classes when she's in town (I live in LA), and they are tough-- a lot of 11-minute kriyas. But the feeling of power! The bliss of knowing that you can overcome your whiny mind and do anything you commit to! It's priceless.
I often tell my beginner students: Other yogas are about feeling peaceful and calm-- kundalini is about waking up! We're here to stimulate energy! So go for it!
Much love to you Christine!

Brija said...

Again I know where you're coming from! Somedays it's so hard to get on with what you need to do but you have to just suck it up and do it anyway. No one else is going to do it so it's the only way. It's a very tricky balance for me trying to push myself and just punishing myself. I haven't done much Kundalini but I've found it's very much worth not stopping when you feel like it.

Christine Claire Reed said...

Louise, thank you. exactly. that is exactly what I tell new students the difference is! :)

Brija, yep. NO SELF PUNISHMENT allowed and, of course, part of yoga is learning to recognize that.