Last night, I went back to yoga class for the first time in about nine months. For the first time in about nine months, I got to observe myself as a learner, struggling with something.
When I was going to yoga once a week last year, I felt totally confident in the yoga studio. I could tackle anything, and I could rise to the challenges the instructor set for us. But I've changed a lot since then, most significantly, my flexibility has changed during my training for a half marathon. I can't recall a time in my life when I've felt so stiff.
So I felt anxious returning to the yoga studio. Would I be able to do it? Would it be hard? Once class started, I noticed some conflicting thoughts inside of me. I knew I was there for myself, for my own body and my own purposes. But I still felt like I somehow wanted or needed to show the instructor that I could do it. Looking back, that was probably a factor even when I wasn't feeling anxious about my ability. Even when I was confident, I still wanted to show the instructor how well I could do. Even though it's a yoga studio, not a competitive audition!
I'm grateful that last night's instructor was very encouraging of wobbles in balance poses and just trying stuff to see how it feels. Sometimes an instructor encourages you to do well -- and you find that you can do great things. But sometimes an instructor can help you learn by encouraging you to fail. Go ahead and fall over during crescent lunge. You'll learn from it. I was really very grateful for that perspective last night.
As a teacher myself, I wonder if you can be both types instructors at the same time? Can you only be one type, and therefore not reach the students who need the other? Or can you learn to be adept at both, and notice what a student needs each time you meet them?