Friday, July 20, 2012

Phone-y Yoga

The web has been atwitter this past week with a story of a yoga teacher fired from her post at Facebook over a dirty look she gave a student for texting during class. Not just texting during class, but texting in the middle of a challenging pose. (Sounds like a new pose is in the works, Half Moon Text?)

As a fellow instructor who also teaches yoga classes as part of workplace wellness programs, I can certainly identify with the instructor's plight. After all, it is our job to keep students safe during class and help them stay focused. Not to mention, no instructor wants to feel ignored while teaching. It's probably the most insulting thing you can do to an instructor.

I actually have had nightmares where I'm trying to teach and the class decides to disregard me and do their own thing.

What's probably the most shocking isn't that the student was texting in class but that the teacher was fired for scowling at the student. Who hasn't been in class when someone's phone has rang or seen another student leave class to take a call or text? We accept it as part of our culture now. For better or worse, cell phones are here to stay.

The real question is how to we navigate such a world full of ever increasing distractions. We come to yoga to take a break from the rat race. Yet, as soon was we arrive we worry we might have missed something and grow anxious to get back to the real world.

I often joke with students who come frantically racing through the door that it seems a shame to have to rush to go relax. Isn't there something ironic about that? Hurry up to slow down. And when we try, we can't do it.

I could go on a nice, long tirade about how technology is ruining our inner peace and blah, blah, blah. But it's all been said before. Plenty has been written and preached about mindfulness and boundaries.We know the problem. Most stressed out people are acutely aware that they are stressed out. They know they need to relax. And, dang it, they are trying!

That's just it, they are trying. Relaxation becomes one more item on the list of things that need to get done. Finish the project, respond to those emails, pick-up the kids, eat your fruits and veggies, relax and breathe. A world drowning in stress doesn't need anymore empty platitudes about remembering to breathe.

Maybe it's time to admit that yoga in our hurried and harried world has become more of a band-aid, and not the panacea for the fear and striving eating away at our souls. Maybe we need something more? Something divine perhaps?

Let me just say this: As a person who has battled anxiety for many years, even to the point of deciding to quit a high stress job and teach yoga, yoga helped, but didn't make the problem go away. No amount of breathing, positive thinking or self-help was able to fix the brokenness in me. It wasn't until I tumbled head-first into the waiting arms of divine grace that I was able to find a lasting peace. A peace that transcends all understanding because I know now that I matter. I am loved.

Even if my students don't listen to me and text in class. Though you still might get a dirty look if you do.

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