You’ve seen her. She’s the one holding her phone at a 45 degree angle just over her head giving come hither eyes to her iPhone screen. Then, she adjust the phone over to the right by 3 centimeters, turns her head to catch the light and purses her lips. After seven more shots, she scrolls through them . . . frowns and begins the process again.
In the era of Kardashians and photo op-ing every meal you eat on Instagram some might say that, as a society, we’ve become self-absorbed. By the way, how does that word make you feel? Self-absorbed? I looked up some synonyms on Merraim-Webster and found:
egoistic (also egoistical), egomaniacal, egotistic (or egotistical), narcissistic, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-concerned, self-infatuated, self-interested, self-involved, selfish, self-loving, self-obsessed, self-oriented, self-preoccupied, self-regarding, self-seeking, self-serving, solipsistic
Yuck. Let’s not be that.
But wait, let’s be just that for just a moment. Bear with me, I’m going somewhere here. Isn’t it our job to get a little self-absorbed on the mat? Aren’t we invited to be self-interested, self-involved, self-loving, and most certainly self-seeking?
Today in class, I invited everyone to get into that same mindset as we do when we are searching for the just-right angle in a selfie. Get very self-interested and begin to make those subtle adjustments. What if I root my feet down deeper? What happens when I lift my arches? Can I liquefy the tops of my shoulders while also broadening across my upper back? Just as selfie-seekers (and bless their hearts) are paying massive attention to miniscule details to find the “just right” picture, yogis are paying massive attention to miniscule details to discover the “just right” asana.
So, consider this your personal invitation. Absorb in self.
"It's time to spread our wings and fly
Don't let another day go by my love
It'll be just like starting over, starting over."
- Starting Over by John Lennon
When I was a shiny new yoga teacher back in 2003, I gladly accepted my first job at my neighborhood's recreation center. Believe it or not, this budding community of military families, young first-time homebuyers and "roots dug deep" ranchers were not banging down the door to get into my yoga class. I know, I was shocked too! My supervisor told me to simply practice when no one showed up "so they'd see what it is you do." (I have a feeling that she wasn't quite sure what this yoga stuff was about either, but I digress.) Each day, I set up my mat, played my native American flute and drum beat yoga music mix (yes, I've upgraded my yoga music offering over the years) and waited. Each day, I left feeling like I made a huge mistake with this yoga teacher thing. However, in the same way a trickle of water will eventually fill a tub, I began to build a class.
Flash forward twelve years later and I never worry about filling a class. In fact, much to my surprise, I have taught a few events that even required a microphone! Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no Kathryn Budig, but I do have consistent classes where I typically teach over 20 people.
Then why, oh why, would I accept a class at a brand new studio that's in the process of building their own clientele? There is not a mass of built-in clientele scanning the schedule for my class. I'm back in that uncomfortable seat of not knowing if anyone will want what it is that I have to offer. (Read: love me, love me, I am good enough really!) Once again, I am inviting an empty room to mock me. How is it that an empty space is so powerful that it can soak into my soul and make me question . . . everything?
I accepted this challenge because comfort creates complacency and stagnation. When I teach a class with one or two students (who I wasn't even sure would show), it reminds me of the power of THEIR individual practices and THEIR unique experiences. I'm not teaching "a class." I am teaching "a person" or "people." With a consistently filled class, it can be easy to lose sight of this very important aspect of teaching. When I am not sure I'll have a single student, the one woman who shows up is a beautiful gift and I feel honored to teach her.
Starting over is unsettling. I reek of humility. I am so grateful for the experience.
By the way, this new class is Vinyasa Yoga, Tuesdays from 9:30 - 10:30 am at Eighteenth Element Yoga Studio, 5050 Edison Avenue, Suite 115. Come join me – it will help with the echo - unless that's just in my mind.