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October: Revisiting Old Haunts 04/10/12

Yesterday I started my month of revisiting old haunts, not that Triyoga Primrose Hill is an old haunt, per se. I’ve never had a dislike or particular affinity for the centre, although about eighteen months ago I walked out of yoga class at the Iyengar Institute after feeling the teacher had been repeatedly treating other students, and then myself, unfairly and seemingly maliciously. I chose to wait a few days and then send an email to let him know why I left class; after all, I had been attending his classes weekly for over a year and a half that also were in his home. I suppose I felt we had a teacher-student relationship, and out of respect for the teacher and myself, I wanted to communicate. Over the course of a several-email-exchange, it became clear that it was neither personal, nor clear to the teacher that he actually regularly offended people and his offhanded comments could be hurtful. There is a point to be noted about leaving egos at the door, but when I witness a teacher calling a student stupid or a waste of time, it doesn’t exactly resonate with my interpretation of yoga.

Of course, there are different styles of teachers for different students. Yesterday when I attended his class at Triyoga Primrose Hill it reminded me that there is an extraordinary quality of this particular teacher who has a clear gift for teaching creatively in an unorthodox style. I was surprised he not only remembered me and my knee neuropathy, but approached me at the beginning of class to say hello. Perceived or real, my feeling was that he was attentive and aware of my presence, a stark contrast to our email exchange when I felt that what I said or felt was of no interest to him. I told him in our last exchange that he showed me the best and the worst of a teacher, and the visit yesterday reinforced this. To me, the teacher still represents the best and worst attributes of a teacher, though perhaps less extreme than in my recollection. He was demanding of his students, at times sarcastic and self-mocking; a diva in his communication with his assistants. At the same time he was genuinely funny, engaging, off the cuff and incredibly proficient and effective in teaching asana. The pity is that he hasn’t learned his temper and moodiness only diminish his talents and charisma.

The bigger shift has happened in myself. It seems that I’ve disassociated myself enough that I can observe all this going on less emotionally, take the teachings and internalize them into my own practice, and practice letting go of my perception of the right and wrong way to communicate as a teacher. This last sentence is the key. Yoga is a constant practice that keeps me present and aware of my perceptions versus reality. Going to the places I’ve spent unsettled time is always an interesting journey into a perceived reality. Of course, the magic and mystery of life is that everything is always in flux. In fact, the only reality we experience in the world, in our bodies, is change.

Next stop. Jivamukti Yoga London. It was a dark and stormy night…

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