Friday, January 18, 2008

I kept thinking (in a smarmy, mean, unyogic way) of Charles Bernstein's poem, "Thank You for Saying Thank You."

I don't enjoy working with partners in a yoga class. I know, I know there are some things you need a partner for, and it's good to learn to trust and support other people. I guess. However, when I am upside down, I'd rather be left to my own devices. If I'm going to fall, I'd rather fall sideways and land on my feet instead of A) falling over backwards into a deranged back bend to avoid kicking my partner or B) just falling on my partner. I rarely feel supported by a yoga partner. Instead, I feel like I have to support them, which is most vexing when one is supposed to be the recipient of support. This is why I'm not a big fan of support.

Or maybe it's just that I'm not good at moving in and out of "teaching" mode quickly. When I'm at yoga, I need to focus very precisely on what I am physically doing. I don't want to help someone else understand that, for example, they should hold my hips or my feet when spotting me in an inversion, not my knees (ouch!). Giving directions while upside down and everyone in the room is also talking is impossible--you have to yell just so that your poor partner can hear what you are saying.

When I'm not in a kind, teacherly mode, I'm not a very good partner because I'm timid. I don't really want to touch someone else, and I don't want to be responsible when they get injured, or when their rotator cuff tears. Many people will simply not tell you if you are doing something that makes them uncomfortable, so I probably sound overly paranoid when I say "how does this feel? Are you feeling any pain in your lower back?" etc every five seconds.

Of course, receiving a really good assist is fabulous. A good assist can help you open up your muscles, or gain a deeper, more embodied sense of alignment. Giving an assist correctly can also do the same thing. But first you have to get through the interpersonal weirdness of assisting someone (or being assisted) in the first place.

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