Our yoga relationships can re-draw how we view our practice, sometimes literally. By Victoria Jackson
It’s sometimes said that yoga is all about relationships. I’m sure this is true in some deep philosophical way that I don’t understand yet (always learning!), but I can see that it’s true even on a mundane, everyday level. I know I forged some strong relationships through teacher training, I have teachers who I hope will travel with me a long way through my practice, and I enjoy seeing my own students each week, some of them coming regularly enough that we become increasingly familiar with one another. Yes, yoga relationships can run deep, I think.
And now I’ve been teaching long enough that I also have some ‘former students’ who still keep in touch. One of them comes back to class regularly – just not to practice yoga! Instead she’s pursuing her interest in figure drawing and exploring how to depict the human body in motion. She sits at the back of class and sketches the students as they move through their poses. It’s amazing to me how her simple lines capture the essence of a posture: the stability and strength of warrior 2, expansiveness in triangle, or the introspective stillness of seated forward folds.
As we chat after class we compare our different ways of seeing anatomy or perceiving the quality of flow in each pose. She talks about the spaces around the body as much as the shapes of muscles or the position of limbs. As an onlooker rather than a participant, she now has a different perspective on the class. She comments how beautiful the students look as they flow together, each individual expressing themselves through their bodily movements.
But she complains to me that I keep the students on the move so much that she must work very quickly – just a few lines are all that’s possible – or hope to catch them second time around as they take the postures on the opposite side. And she can’t believe it when we come to the closing postures of class; she checks the clock wondering if I’ve altered the structure of the sequence or if my timing is completely out!
So we agreed to meet outside class when we will have more time. She can tell me what she needs and I can hold the postures longer to aid her study and her drawing skills. I’m very excited…and a little nervous. I’m not sure I’m ready to turn from yoga teacher to yoga model!
Victoria Jackson lives and teaches in Oxford. She is registered with Yoga Alliance Professionals as a vinyasa yoga teacher. Read more of Victoria’s OM Lite columns here.