Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sh*t My Yoga Teacher Says

Yoga mat with a view

My yoga teacher is one bad-ass mofo. I mean, she’s no Samuel L. Jackson or anything, but she’s also not your typical size 0, Malibu-Barbie L.A.-type yoga teacher. She’s a sturdy woman, strong, with long flowing hair (good for the kundalini, she says) and although she likes to make jokes about her butt, the woman is in rockin’ good shape. What I’m saying is I bet my yoga teacher could kick your yoga teacher’s ass.

She is deeply spiritual and knows her stuff : yoga, tai chi and the inner workings of the physical and energy body. She can tell you exactly how to wrap yourself into a pretzel and how to get out of it. I mean, if you're into that. 

The thing that makes her different is her odd but loving way of guiding us through our practice- delivered in such a way that I half expect to turn around and find a cigar hanging out the side of her mouth. After class, as I drive home, I find myself pondering her words, looking for the deeper meaning, as I find metaphor for life in everything I do, but especially in yoga.

So here are some of Swami-Amy’s quotes, with my contemplative interpretations:

“Keep your movements small, we’re not trying to put on a Bob Fosse production, here.” And then she added, “But not that tight. This ain’t the Mitt Romney class.”
 She’s right, of course. Yoga is not a Bob Fosse production. We don’t need to wave our arms and flail around saying look at me, look at me! I matter! Yoga, like life, is not a competition. It’s not about recognition. It doesn’t matter that the woman next to me actually can fold herself into a pretzel (she really can). It is how we feel within our own skin that matters. We don’t need to look like anybody else, stretch as far as anyone else. We only need to step into our own flow.
And we definitely, definitely don’t want to be anything like Mitt Romney.
Unless you do, and in that case, Namaste.

“Keep your chakras lined up, Dudes (she always calls us dudes, although we are a class of all women). Whatever is out of balance in your energy body is going to manifest in the physical.”
 I see this in my own yoga practice. When my energy is out of balance, by body is out of balance. I can’t maintain poses. I “lose my footing”. I also have seen my body manifest illness in the places I’ve lost balance. And this bleeds over into my daily life. So every day I work on lining my chakras up. Dude.

“The prana is strong in this one.”
 (Awesome Star Wars reference!) Prana is our life force, our energy. We all have it, but some people fritter it away. For instance, there was a woman behind me in class who flailed and huffed and puffed and made such a production out of every pose. She was breathing with such intensity it sounded like she was slurping soup back there. She was throwing her energy all over the place, instead of focusing it where she needed it. When it came time for balance poses she was falling over and stumbling.
The bottom line is- focus your energy. Don’t fritter that prana away. Be the one in whom the prana is strong. or as Yoda once said, "Do, or do not. There is no try."

"Take it easy over there, crazy-elbows" 
This was said to a woman who was overextending (her elbows). We all over extend ourselves, afraid of saying no or disappointing anyone. I would bet that "crazy-elbows" does this in her life, and its showing up in her practice. So if you're one of those over-extending people pleasers, one who literally bends backwards for others, my advice to you: Take it easy over there, crazy-elbows.

“Now, as you go into this pose, you must ask yourself, can I go deeper, or am I just bein’ a pussy?”
 None of us really want to push beyond our comfort zone. The fact is, we usually can go deeper in life, in relationships. Most often, we are just bein’ a pussy. But if we don’t stretch beyond our limits, we become rigid in body, rigid in mind.  A rigid body is bad but nothing is worse than a rigid mind.

And then there's my favorite quote:
"Don't fuck with my serenity."
I don't think that one needs any interpretation.

So my fellow yogis, those are Swami-Amy’s gems for you today. I’ll be sure to add more as they come….and believe me, there’ll be much more to come. This one’s a live wire.

Until then, as Swami-Amy says, “Lookin' good, kundalini-girl.”
And Namaste. 

**L.A. peeps: Amy offers a free Tai Chi/Yoga Fusion class under the oaks,  Friday mornings, 9:30AM at the Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center. 

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