For The Love Of Embodiment

Suki talks Yoga.

Besides being Yoga devotees, both Suki and Genevieve are talented writers and I always appreciate their insights  so each season, I have been inviting these (and other), Shree Goddesses to share their thoughts with taoStyle readers.

Last month, Gen had her say, this time, it’s Suki’s turn!

Seven hundred words on why I love teaching yoga is easy to write. And so challenging. And most intimate work.

I do very much love teaching yoga. I’ve been sharing my practice professionally teaching for fifteen years and don’t imagine a foreseeable end to this work as I find it rich with humanity and realness. I like humanity and realness. It feeds me to be with people having a real experience, especially amid bombardment by the media to fake it and be normal. Normal flies out the window when you’re trying to put your foot behind your head.

For most people, putting a foot behind the head is not an easy task, and the road there is a long, uncomfortable wind that takes them places far beyond their hip rotators and spine. For many people, putting a foot behind the head isn’t even a useful road to take but finding that out is also some good medicine and with a good teacher and a good self-awareness, one doesn’t walk too far down the road. Bodies carry stories. Finding and unwinding tension from our stories is deep emotional territory. I’ve been stuck with my foot behind my head before, and holy wow, it was scary. I place no blame on my teachers, and absolutely own that I was trying to be someone other than myself (or at least use my hips like they just aren’t put together.)

That span of uncomfortable minutes with my heel behind my cranium was a big piece of my own evolution as a student of yoga, and especially as a teacher. Every experience matters and assists in the curation of a craft. And every experience is held in the body’s tissue, waiting to be tended, respected, transformed and let go when it is time. Good teachers learn from experimentation, and foibles make for better understanding. It’s what is done with the information gleaned from discomfort that fuels the pursuit of yoga. Discomfort is inherent in our journey as humans, but how we deal with it and still make a positive impact in and around us is the treasure. Am I making it clear enough that I am thankful for the time I got my foot stuck behind my head?

All we can really do as teachers and leaders is develop better, more empowering language that encourages inquiry rather than spurring on some surely awkward pursuit of a physical goal. The student is obliged to know where their boundaries are, and sometimes busting the paradigm is necessary, even if it comes with fallout. I think this speaks to much of our human experience off the mat, too. I continue to strive for a balance within the paradox of how casually someone might approach their own edges and my responsibility as a teacher to hold safe space. In the context of a public class, most of this goes unsaid, or is casually acknowledged, and this adds a whole other layer to the task.

These boundaries that present their unwavering faces in the context of a yoga practice are physical, emotional, spiritual, cultural, psychic, mental, and often, surprising. Everything comes up when the body is in motion, just as everything stagnates when we are sitting still, or stuck. I wholeheartedly love this test of my capacity to respect boundaries, address and acknowledge boundaries, and investigate boundaries alongside the humans I serve in the yoga classroom. It is profound and tender work, and I am honored.

To bolster my own knowing I’ve recently enrolled in the Integrative Massage program at UNM Taos. I highly recommend the program, and the facility for health sciences in downtown Taos is exceptional. The course of study has truly fed my desire to better see, feel, and converse with the human body and soul. For anyone who is feeling like I’ve dropped off the face of the earth, or the studio floor at Shree, I am here! Still very much loving leading three classes a week at beloved Shree Yoga, and most of the rest of the time, filling my brain with all kinds of super fascinating stuff that I know is making me a better teacher, in every way.

Respectfully, Suki Ola

Thank you Suki!

For more about Suki and her classes at Shree Yoga Taos, please visit their site linked below this post.


All images thanks to Shree Yoga Taos (and Zoe Zimmerman for the top photo.)