Class Notes, Week 23: Musings on my first yoga apprenticeship

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.

Last night was my final practice as Kim Wilcox’s yoga teacher apprentice.  These past eight weeks have flown by.  Just as I am really starting to find my groove and make connections with some of Kim’s regular students — I must move on.  It’s a little sad.

But, oh the gratitude I have.  The ability to observe, document and learn from Kim and her students has been a real gift.   I loved being in that room each Friday night, and being present for those who unrolled their mats.

There were always at least 10 students; sometimes double that.  All shapes and sizes.  With varying degrees of physical ability.  Bringing a wide spectrum of energy levels.  It was an education in itself with how to approach each student appropriately.  Each body is so unique, and guiding an asana practice accordingly isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula.  Recognizing this has made me a more mindful and attentive in my own yoga teaching.

Kim was a wonderful mentor through it all.  I knew she would be.  She nudged me along gently, as I was really hesitant to invade her space (and the unique energy she brought) at first.  But after getting a few adjustment lessons under my belt and noting how she interacted with the students, I jumped in and followed her lead.  I gave adjustments only when I sensed a student had the ability to go deeper, or if there were alignment issues.

Even with alignment adjustments, my preference was to give a quick verbal cue and see if the student responded accordingly.  Gentle touches, I’m OK with doing that.  But “manhandling” a student into a more appropriate pose, not so OK with that.  Part of it is I personally don’t like it when it’s done to me; I sometimes find it disruptive.  The other part of is that I’d like for students to explore and discover on their own as much as possible.  But, I’m still deciding how “hands on” I am destined to be in my yoga teaching approach … so I’ll leave this window open for now.

What I like about Kim’s style most: woven into her cues she provides an explanation of why we’re doing a pose, what the benefit is physically and emotionally, and why we should avoid doing poses an alternative way.  She also reiterates that how improper alignment, while looking “good,” can actually be detrimental to our bodies in the longterm.  She wraps things in context so effortlessly.  This motivates me to continue learning about the body anatomy and continue reading — so I can build up this sort of effortless wisdom.

The quiet moments after class with Kim was what I appreciated most.  We weren’t rushed out of the studio, as it was the last class of the day, so we could spent time discussing observations and practicing appropriate adjustments.  This one-on-one time was immensely valuable.

I learned as much, if not more, from the students as I did from Kim.  The last few weeks I have been sprinkled with “Thank you’s” after class from students whom I’ve assisted or adjusted.  This gratitude always came unexpectedly, but the simple gestures helped to reaffirm that I’m doing something “right.”  And that positive reinforcement feels good.

No matter how strenuous or stressful my workweek, I was always abundantly happy the moment I stepped into that Moksha studio.  My drama dropped at the front door, without effort — amazing, considering some of the weeks I’ve had recently.  For those next two hours I was yoga’s messenger.  What an honor.  And what a wonderful sign that I am truly on the appropriate path.

Leave a Reply