Some people think of yoga as a sport, others will look at it as a way of stretching to gain flexibility. Very few will look at it as a way of strengthening their bodies and their muscles. Looking at my newborn students (mes nouveaux-nés) makes me happy. Just thinking of what’s coming their way makes me heureux comme un pinson (happy as a lark). I was the student who started with a coupon, one of those you buy on the Internet for a price impossible to ignore. I wanted to try yoga, heck, why not? What’s twenty bucks? I bought the deal and waited almost three months to start. By then, my back a mess, depression had set its claws deep inside me. I was a mess. It turns out yoga was not the miracle pill that some magazines promise, or that your doctor suggests. As it turns out I had kept my blinders on. I was still in pain. I would come back from class elated. Of course being French, my brain was saying something in French, duh! A three month membership followed the ten classes. Et voila (told you it would be in French), the doors were open. I was happy, my back was not.
Meanwhile, as I practiced more and more, my back was still a mess, mon pauvre dos (my poor back). The teachers would say “no pain, no gain”. I was in pain to start with anyway. I thought “Darn it Eric, you are going to get into that pose, it is good for the back, right?” It was not a question of ego, even though to be honest part of it was. Every teacher tried to help me. I am still thankful for that. This is the yogi spirit. Every teacher was truly knowledgeable. What was wrong with me?
Unfortunately, no teacher could see what was under the skin, nor my muscles. How was my spine shaped? When a teacher tells you “This is good for so and so”, they believe it. We all learned from the same books, looked at the same books, I knew they were right. For thousands of years, this pose had helped relieve the pain of menstruation (thank goodness I did not have to deal with that one–insert a big sigh of relief here). Turns out that pose helped with my pinkie.
This is when Yoga Integrated Science sneaked into my life (Ok, I let it). I knew Lauren Eirk from having taken classes with her. She was knowledgeable about muscles, bones. She knew what muscle was involved in a pose, which one was not. Other yoga instructors were telling me I should start thinking about teacher training. When Lauren approached me for her teacher training program, my answer was simple. “Really, are you sure? I suck at yoga (excusez mon français). Child pose kills my back.” Ten days I thought about it, then started teacher training.
Soon I started understanding the poses better (it took months). I was looking at the structure below the skin. It was exciting (tout excité le p’tit Eric), I was there to improve my practice anyway. It was fun. I was looking for a way to understand my body and relieve the pain. I was not planning on teaching yoga. I do not know exactly what happened, yoga opened yet another door. Months of studying hard, bones with funny names, poses I can only hope to achieve in my next life. I already know I will not do any of these poses this very next life, as I am coming back as a dung beetle. Then again, I should probably have a conversation with one of them, maybe they do yoga too? Maybe they learn Sanskrit words they use at the dinner table to impress their guests (note, I may be guilty of doing the same thing).
A yoga teacher came out of the teacher training. Sure I am a baby teacher and I have much to learn, but I am the newborn teacher who is trying to understand where our limitations come from. My spine is never going to allow me to do that beautiful back bend I saw in a magazine, yet my back is healing. Teachers and students alike, always remember that my beautiful may not be your beautiful. Yoga Integrated Science helped me become a teacher, a newborn teacher who loves his newborn students, newborn students who have different bone structures. A lot of yoga teachers look down at that method of teaching, students are not getting in THE pose. Why would the old way be better than the new way? Wasn’t the old way new at some point?