Watching the Detectives

Well, actually it’s not like watching detectives at all, but I really like that song and it’s in my head now, so there you have it.   What I really want to talk about is watching my yoga students.  First, let me stop myself long enough to giggle about the phrase “my yoga students.”   *giggle*  Now that I have that out of the way…  There is something really cool about being able to watch students as they move through their practice.  In fact, I would say that there are multiple things that are cool about it, and I’m really grooving on them, as I’m used to being in my own practice and not seeing much that goes on around me, so this is like a new world.

Watching students in class is informative.  I find out so much about how people feel about and respond to different poses that I didn’t know before.  As an example, in yin class, I like dragon pose.  I remember finding it tiring early on, but since then, unless something is whacked out in my body on a certain night, I feel ok in dragon.  I can feel that dull, achy stretch that is yin, but nothing that brings me out of the pose or forces a lot of wiggling.  However, since I’ve started to teach yin, I’ve noticed that many people are not happy campers in dragon.  They fidget, wiggle, and look generally quite miserable.  This, of course, can happen in any yin pose, but it’s been interesting to notice how prevalent it is in this pose that I hadn’t considered particularly challenging.  Similarly, in a vinyasa class, watching students is such a good way to judge the pace of the class and whether it is suiting their needs.  I’m still working on this and I’m far far from being good at it, but I am starting to get the clues.  Are they sweating a little (like they are warmed up and working) or cool as cucumbers?  Do they look bored or like they are having to pay some attention to what they are doing, or like they are working so hard to comprehend the directions that they are completely out of their bodies?  And the breathing.  Watching the breathing is also a wealth of information.  I’ve seen students breathing fast, students breathing in sync, students breathing in total contradiction to the movements of the body, and students who are seemingly not breathing at all.  I feel like I probably remind students a little more often to check in on the breath than I need to right now, but it’s partly a factor of what I see.

Watching students is also so inspiring.  It doesn’t matter whether the students are new to yoga or have been practicing for a long time.  Seeing the effort and energy that they lay down in the practice awes me.  Back in my “go to the gym” days, I would see people who were there, but not really there.  They would walk around the weight room with a towel, chat, give other people advice on what to do, maybe check out their guns in the mirror, but they weren’t really there.  I rarely see that in a yoga class.  From the outsider perspective, it appears as if some people are a little more focused on the workout, some on the meditative aspect, some on the flexibility, etc. but everyone seems to want to be where they are.

Watching students is also, bottom line, beautiful.  It doesn’t matter what they look like or whether they are struggling more or less in the poses.  It doesn’t matter (really) if they are wearing cute yoga clothes.  It doesn’t matter the ages or the sexes.  It doesn’t matter that people make some serious concentration faces sometimes during yoga (this makes me wonder what my face looks like when I practice).  Regardless of all of that specific difference, there is just something so beautiful about watching a room full of people do yoga.

And, I’m just getting started in this teaching thing, so I feel very lucky to be having the opportunity to watch students and help them, in whatever little way I can, through their practice.

Thank you, students.  Namaste,


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