Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Day 155 of 365: I Learn What I Don't Know

Today is my first day teaching at the new yoga studio. In some weird way, I'm going in with more nervousness than I did with my very first class. It's always nerve-wracking, starting over in some place new. But it's more than that. I've been wracking my brain, trying to figure out how my first class will run, even though I've done a "first class" over 4 times now.

And why? Because the more I learn about anatomy and alignment, the more I realize I know nothing about anatomy and alignment.

Tai chi and yoga are two different beasts. Even though there are some parallels, everything, from the breathing to how you move your body, is different. Which includes the attitude of injury prevention. Chinese martial arts cares very little for injury prevention. I hear the horror stories of how my own instructor trained in China and I cringe. And while I teach my class with an emphasis (or even over-emphasis) on modifications and safety, I'm still going at it blindly. The more I learn about safe alignment and injury prevention, the more I realize I know shit about both.

On a related note, I swore I knew sun salutations like the back of my hand. In vinyasa/ashtanga yoga, sun salutations are how you warm up the body in the beginning of your practice (it's the forward fold -> plank -> up-dog -> down dog -> forward fold, (at least for Sun A) for those who have taken yoga before). Then I tried reciting the cues for an audience. Somehow that confident voice in my head came out shaky and unsure once it hit real life air.

All I know is that I've got a long road ahead of me. One of the lessons I tried to teach my preschoolers was the idea that it's okay to say you don't know something. And that's what I have to do. The first step is admitting you have a problem -- er -- that you don't know something. Which isn't easy to do, especially since we live in a world that glamorizes the concept of just naturally knowing it all (look at all the shows that have "prodigies" manning the technology or working behind the scenes in the lab; rarely do you see main characters who are so adept at their field because they spent decades working and perfecting their craft). It's why everyone loves Guitar Hero, but few people will actually try to learn guitar. Why admit you can't tune a guitar for shit when you can press five buttons and pretend?

(For the record, both my Guitar Hero guitars and my guitar-guitar are collecting dust.)

But still: the first step is admitting I don't know it already. From tai chi, to yoga, to even my writing. It's the only way I'm going to get better at all three.

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