If you’re a yoga teacher or student you probably have a favorite teacher and perhaps some that just irk you. Why is this? With several years of positive feedback from my students and other teachers for my free flow sequencing, no BS ques, fun playlists and “soothing” voice, a recent episode in my yoga life set off a cascade of events which shed great insight into the incredibly subjective nature of yoga.
Recently, someone complained about my class and it made me pause and step back, not because it was the first time I ever got feedback, but because they were someone I thought I should trust and they went behind my back and complained to the studio owner. Their complaint was that my cues weren’t “mindful” enough.
Since I pour my heart and soul into my students and give them everything I got, I felt betrayed, confused and doubted my teaching. I thought a lot about where I actually learned what I do and it brought me back to Bryan Kest the creator of Power Yoga in Santa Monica. I loved his style, it was to the point, he didn’t give 15,000 alignment cues, which nobody hears, cares about or even understands. He is very masculine and could also easily be cast aside as lacking in “mindfulness”. Yet Bryan has changed more lives for the better than perhaps any yoga teacher in our country and he’s spawned hundreds if not thousands of yoga teachers.
What I realized is that yoga is completely subjective. Even the founders like Patabi Jois created his version of yoga from other disciplines like wrestling and gymnastics. Now there are some obvious things that are wrong in alignment, but who’s to say what is right and wrong with your cue style or you choice of music or your sequencing. Of course the yoga snob would frown and We all know the yoga snob, they speak real slowly and recite at least 15 alignment cues per pose, which inevitably fly over the head of 99% of all students, they turn on really soft yogic music which puts most to sleep and hey you know what, some people like this and I’m OK with it. But put that yoga snob into the class of someone who plays dynamic house music and jokes around with cues from time to time and they call you a teacher lacking in “mindfulness.”
A Sign from the Universe
A couple days after this episode I was in Los Angeles on to deliver an audition DVD to “The Voice” casting and got up early the next day to take class from Rudi Mettia from Power Yoga in Santa Monica. When I got to the parking lot my mind said “No Yoga”, I was actually bummed on yoga and wanted nothing to do with it, so instead went to the beach to swim in the ocean.
After swimming for a while I got out and was standing at the edge of the water with the sun beating on my back warming me from the cold ocean. I was feeling pensive, analyzing the meaning of recent events when out of nowhere a stocky rogue looking dude with a black bandanna, sunglasses and a goatee approached me. He stuck his hand out to shake mine and I thought to myself, who the hell is this guy?
I then realized it was an old friend, who I played music with and knew quite well about 8 years ago. He said a few words in his thick French accent which I didn’t really understand, then he proceeded to say: “9 years ago next week you saved my life and I want to thank you.” I realized that I had indeed bailed him out of a desperate situation where he was in jail, on the bottle and headed down the highway to hell. After getting booted from his house by his lady I let him stay with me and we did some serious soul searching to root out the evil within that kept sabotaging his life.
Apparently it worked as he continued.. “I made a promise to 3 people 9 years ago to never drink liquor again and change my life and you were one of them. I’ve kept my promise and I’m back with my wife clean and sober.”
When he said this it almost jerked a tear from my eyes. It was clearly a message from greater protective functions we call the “Shoten Zenjin” which protect us if we uphold the law of cause and effect and live for the greater good. Right now one thing was clear.. I was on the right path, all my giving had been acknowledged in one fell swoop. This was no coincidence, I wasn’t supposed to be in LA, I was going to yoga and bailed out, I ended up on a random beach and this dude appeared to say: “You are on the right path grasshopper, don’t be discouraged in the least by the arrogant and Keep doing what you’re doing.” I’ll never forget that day, proof that if you live your life for a higher purpose you will always be guided and protected.
Feel Free to Comment Below. Lots of Love to all my friends out there, Chad