Master Teacher Roundtable: Daylene Christensen

The Moksha yoga teacher training program requires me to journal once each week about my experience with the poses and assignments + my practice and progress. This is part of that weekly assignment.

I attended a Master Teacher Roundtable this weekend.  The featured yogi speaker: Daylene Christensen.

Daylene practices and teaches Ashtanga yoga, a style of yoga with which I’m familiar.  It’s just not my favorite discipline — when it’s a pure Ashtanga practice, anyway.  Perhaps it’s because it’s so disciplined and structured.  There’s none of that free-flowing connection to the breath that I adore about a vinyasa practice.  In Ashtanga, it’s very staccato and systematic.  It’s the same sequencing every time, with no wiggle room for creativity.  The program has already been mapped out, like a runner’s training program for a marathon.  I find this predictability boring, and a little scary.  But, to each their own.

While it was wonderful to hear Daylene’s backstory – especially how she initially hated yoga, and hated Ashtanga yoga even more – I was slightly turned off by subtle body cues revealed when she’d discuss vinyasa.  It was almost a mocking of those who practiced it.  Perhaps she wasn’t aware of the little eye rolls and loosey-goosey rocking of the torso and arms that accompanied her vinyasa anecdotes.  Or, perhaps I was just hyper-analyzing, taking it the wrong way.  While I tried not to judge, I couldn’t shake this observation – and that perhaps there was a small judgment coming from her, seeping into her body cues.

I did very much appreciate Daylene’s honesty, however.  Her matter-of-fact-take-it-or-leave-it style is refreshing, even when it can be hard to swallow.  As long as it stimulates growth.  I asked her, “How do you balance your personal practice and teaching?”  Her response didn’t miss a beat: “I schedule it in my iCal.  Personal practice comes first, and I schedule everything else around it.”  Boom.  No half-answer or something along the lines of, “Find a balance that works for you.”  (Those sorts of answers wouldn’t have been helpful anyway.)  This girl means business.  And she knows her stuff.

A clear advocate of hard work and not taking any short-cuts, Daylene got me second-guessing my aversion to a pure Ashtanga practice.  She said one Ashtanga class isn’t enough.  A few weeks aren’t enough.  Give it at least one month before deciding that it’s not for you.  And commit to that month with regular practice and integrity.

Hmmm.  This got me thinking about all of the other things I’ve stopped over the years, following one bad or so-so experience.  (This certainly applies to men and first dates, too.)  Am I too quick to pull the trigger and say no upon an immediate aversion?  Should I hush my first instinct, and what I believe to be my intuition … to see what may blossom, with extra effort and integrity?  Do I take Daylene’s advice when it comes to practicing Ashtanga and work through the preliminary bitter taste, in the hopes that it will turn into a drink I’ll want again and again?  This is how things jelled with her, after all.  This approach has certainly worked wonders with me, too, in regards to specific poses, such as crow and side crow — poses I used to hate and avoid, but now embrace and seek to improve.

I left Daylene’s Master Teacher Roundtable with this children’s quote ringing in my ears: When at first you don’t succeed .. try, try again.

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