I have been chewing on a few things the last couple of weeks or so, as I sit with and observe my shifting form, my variable energy, my morphing identity. I am feeling so different in my body this pregnancy than I did when I carried Maple and Eider. Which makes sense. That was a long ass time ago. And I don’t feel bad. I feel strong and connected and good. Just so different.
I practiced throughout both of those pregnancies. Straight through. I took out the obvious things like twists or anything else that compressed the abdomen but I think I kept doing backbends until sometime during the third trimester. And the main reason that I think that I did, was probably simply because I could. I still had the range so why not? And while I suffered a small separation of my abdominal wall, it was pretty slight and my recovery both times was steady and I would say now, smooth and relatively easy. I was 28 and 31!!!
I feel different now. While I still feel capable of most of the usual stuff, strength and mobility wise, so much of it simply doesn’t feel right, and that has translated in my body mind as doesn’t feel good. It makes sense that it’s different now. I’m different now. Over the last decade so much has changed, and on a really basic level, one thing that has changed a lot is my body composition. With age and the natural shift in my hormones I have left the juiciness and fluidity of my 20’s and early 30’s and become leaner and stronger and much more integrated. I have moved with increasing depth into a relationship with my core that my younger self never thought possible. My mind is likewise different. It is much more integrated and refined. The parts of my mind that could once push or force my way through adversity and difficulty now pauses to watch, to listen, to observe. I think I have become more honest in my body-mind as a result. It feels good to be taking note of this now.
So where does this land me right now? Doing a lot less in terms of asana that is for sure. Keeping it real simple and not bringing much stretch to what feels like a much stronger midsection than the one I asked to grow and stretch a decade ago. And having turned a lot of my attention in the direction of longevity over the last few years, I am keeping my eyes turned in that direction. Beyond what I am capable of in this moment, I want to stay connected to and rooted in an awareness of the life of my practice beyond this childbearing year.
But this is all me. It’s personal and intimate and feels like the result of a couple decades worth of mostly consistent self-reflection. And yet, right now I find this private truth affecting how I teach publicly and causing me to reevaluate some of my methodology in my classes. That is really what I am here to talk about in this moment.
Several years ago, I made the conscious choice to move away from the use of student demos in class. They seemed like they were becoming more about the student and less about the posture or drill and that felt divisive at worst, murky at best. Even when they are coming from a sincere place, student demos can be complicated and it is of course impossible to know how they are landing for everyone else in the class. Not to mention, the person doing the demo potentially feeling completely singled out and on the spot. I chose instead to do all of my own demos, as needed for the most part. I feel that I do a good job focusing the energy and attention on the pose itself and not making it about me. It’s imperfect, naturally, but I think it had worked OK. Having grown up in a method that used endless student demos I am perhaps more sensitive to this than I need to be, but I have watched demos land poorly in myself and in others. Instead of being something that elevates and connects they become something that fuels competition and comparisons. I think that it is difficult for someone before they are really established in practice to get the full benefit out of watching peers or folks with more experience or expertise in a particular area. It can feel threatening. And yet, it can also be immensely inspiring. I love watching people practice. I learn a shit ton from watching people do things that I haven’t yet found or refined in my own body. But I didn’t always feel this way and that is what I am sensitive to.
However…. I can’t do all the demos right now. Not even many of them. Especially if I want to keep my classes moving in the directions they are headed and not stall them out while they wait for the depth in my practice to return. So right now, I am choosing, again with eyes wide open, to use student demos in public classes. And I’m going to bring them in for the sake of the group. I want them to be rooted in the collective desire to grow and learn together. I want them to be in service of and elevate the whole. And I really want us to all be on the same page with this. So I’m going to talk about it a lot. Because it is complicated. It is nuanced. As are each of us. We are sometimes many people in a big space and that can be a lot of moving parts. But at the heart of all of the work that we have been doing together for the last several years is the creation of a community of practice. When someone who has more experience than you or has practiced and refined something that you have not yet and demonstrates that in front of the group, I want you to feel as though they are holding out their hand to you as though to say: I journeyed here from a beginning point too. I came here with the support of my community and my mentors and my own burning desire and earnest effort. And I am holding space for you to make this journey too.
And if you ever want to talk about any of this, I am here for that too.