Don't bring fear with you on a yogamat!

On a Monday late afternoon, I was going to teach the 7 pm class in a yoga studio, in Shanghai.
There must have been two students I knew, and a few I had never had in my class. So I asked them the traditional questions about their health, did they have any health issue, did they want in this class to focus more particularly on one part of the body, or did they want to do a specific posture and I would build up the sequencing toward it, etc.
And one of the student did not reply to the question about her health, but just said she was a yoga teacher. Well, that certainly to meant that she knew her body and if she had any problem she knew already how to deal with it. Well, well.
I asked her what she used to teach, “astanga”, she said.
Many of her postures were not that good—well, for a yoga teacher, a certain imprecision in the alignment, hip going too low in virabhadrasana B, a few details like that. And I finished my standing sequence on the right side by jumping into a one leg pinca mayurasana.
And I said, “now we do pinca mayurasana with the left leg first.” She took her mat and put it perpendicular against the wall. I precised, ‘oh, we don’t use the wall for headstand or pinca mayurasana here.’
Then she had a pout and instead, did a tripod headstand. As she was staying there, I added that the unsupported headstands should not be kept for a long time, as they put more strain on the cervical vertebrae. She came down to reply that she felt the opposite, that this tripod headstand was much better than the supported one for neck. Of course, she was doing it on her crown head, thus having her neck in a totally straight line, losing the natural curve the neck has in a relaxed standing for instance. I was about to explain her this, and realized she was not willing to listen to anything. She was a yoga teacher, she knew.
Then I asked, “Why don’t you do pinca mayurasana?”
“I’m scared without the wall, if we fall, we can easily injure ourselves, I’ve heard a lot of stories about people getting injured after a fall from this posture. Even in my training, it happened.”
And then suddenly, it dawned on me, with a very strong sensation, that the emotions we bring into our classes have a powerful impact on our students. If this woman is scared, if she believes doing pinca mayurasana is very unsafe without the wall, then she is right, if she does it in the way I do it, free in the middle of the room, she is bound to fall and hurt herself. If she tried to teach it the way I do her students would be bound to fall and hurt themselves.
And as to me, I am so confident about this posture that for years, I have never had seen anyone getting injured, either myself, or my students.
We must be very careful, we teachers, because we can also bring our fears into the classrooms. And we have that power to draw accidents… or not. She was so sure that it was dangerous, that I didn’t even attempt to explain anything to someone so closed.
I already knew that we bring our emotions: I’m sluggish because it’s the new moon; I didn’t sleep well because it’s the full moon; I got really angry at a motorcyclist just before going to the studio and I still feel this anger and the class is going to start; and so on. We do bring all our  emotions. But worse, we can also bring FEAR.
And lucky enough, this is not something I bring with me!

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