This past Memorial Day weekend, I had the privilege of teaching at Lighting In a Bottle. Think Burning Man with fewer drugs and more conscious awareness. I remember, before going, reading a quote about imagination. It was something along the lines of “Your imagination is yours and yours alone. With it, you can create your masterpiece or you can create your hell.”
We are all born with so much potential and believe we can create anything but, somewhere along the way, life beats that out of us. Being at Lib was truly like seeing someone’s imagination come to life. The immaculate detail that went into creating this magic world helped uplift people, reignite passion and drive, and pretty much put a smile on everyone’s face. It was truly a Disneyland for adults where you just found your tribe. From spiritual talks to yoga, to house music, to Meditation Lookout Point, to shaman talks, Lib had it all. Walking around, I just kept thinking about the amount of detail and hard work that went into creating something like this. I became curious about the people who came up with this idea. I have heard that this festival started out several years back with 500 people and now it’s around 20,000.
Think about how many times people must have told the creators that they were crazy for attempting this. That they were wasting their time and money. Yet their drive and dream took priority over their fears and they conquered. We can all choose to starve our fears and feed our dreams. We can all choose to create a masterpiece with our imagination. But imagination is nothing without drive. It is nothing without action. So get going. Life waits for no one. Will you choose to feed your dreams or your fears?
One of the many things students ask in class is “Again? We have to do it again?” My answer is always the same: unless you met your husband/wife/partner on your first date you ever had, than yes, again.
Take a handstand for example. A flawless handstand is a perfect balance of strength and flexibility in the body. A perfect balance of surrender and full concentration of the mind. I remind my students that the mentality of an athlete is all I know, and the only way anyone gets good at something is through repetition. The key is repetition with awareness. Each time you are trying to get better at something, you do so by repeating it. In a handstand it translates into the way you place your hands, the focused gaze, core, shoulders, hamstrings, flexibility, and so on.
In this sense, yoga is life training. Off the mat, how much awareness do you bring into your life? First, you must identify what it is that requires your awareness. Are you looking for a life partner? What red flags have you learned to observe from past experiences? Are you looking to be more positive with your thoughts? How aware are you of the words you use with yourself and others?
Whether you’re looking to become the next Michael Jordan, the next Meryl Streep or Frida Kahlo, I guarantee you that those people got where they did by studying their craft. By repetition with awareness. Better yet, look to become a better version of you!
Well, I can tell you that it’s much easier to remember when you take the time to plan ahead. For me, it always goes back to what kind of teacher do I want to be? I feel a responsibility to my students and I have a good group of regulars so I like to help them work their bodies in different ways. If we did backbends on Monday, I might choose a strength focused class on Wednesday.
I’m also very type A. I type out my classes and super glue them to my notebook, which is color coded. So the brown section is my hamstring-focused classes, green is my arm balance section, and so forth.
This may sound excessive to some, but it is my most prized possession. I can see my growth as a teacher through that notebook. I can see where my head was at in 2011 and how much better I understand sequencing now.
As a teacher, I hope you always remain a student. As a student, how much do you appreciate a good class?
You can tell when a teacher shows up and throws in a million chair poses, chaturanga’s, and then asks you to do 5 rounds on your own while they fidget with the music. I’m sure you can get away with this, but is this truly the kind of teacher you want to be? If you just show up and wing it, does it satisfy you? How does life work out for you when you have no plan? This is your life and you are in the driver’s seat. I leave you with this food for thought.
“Setting an intention is like drawing a map of where you want to go-it becomes the driving force of your higher consciousness. Without an intention, there is no map, and you’re just driving down a road with no destination in mind.” -Chandresh Bhardwaj author of ‘Break the Norms’