This past Saturday at Flex & Flow we hosted one of our best workshops to date, Hand’s on Assists with Alissa Marguerite Yoga. It was extremely informative, educational, and chock-full of discussion. Everyone who attended (I imagine even Alissa) walked away with new, useful, and deeply applicable knowledge that they can now apply to their practice and their teaching.
The thing is, most yoga instructors can teach a yoga sequence (like literally spit the poses out of their mouths) but not many can truly connect with their students via assists – whether verbal or hand’s on.
It’s a coveted skill that most advanced practitioners and yoga instructors yearn to master. In my opinion, it’s one of the things that separates a good teacher from a great teacher. In most teacher trainings, you’ll receive a small window into the world of giving great hand’s on assists – you’ll scratch the surface – as it’s meant to be a foundation for you to continue learning and building on. And while you might focus a lot on verbal cues during a teacher training, again you will only scratch the surface. It’s likely that you will never discuss the true intricacy of connecting with an individual student, truly deepening their practice with the power of a great verbal or hand’s on assist.
On Saturday, I looked around the room and quite honestly, I felt deeply disappointed with the attendance (or lack thereof) from our own instructors. One of our more recent instructor hires (who was in attendance) is also a professor in her daily life. I couldn’t help but ask her opinion on why people don’t want to learn? Why they say they want to learn new skills (they literally wrote in their personal reviews that they want more opportunities to learn) but then don’t actually make the effort to learn. I couldn’t understand why, when given the opportunity to gain new knowledge and deepen their practice and abilities, they wouldn’t jump through hoops to be there.
Her response to me was simple, yet profound, people don’t like learning things they don’t already know. And it’s true. Think about it. We don’t like things that are unfamiliar. We shy away from being uncomfortable. We don’t like admitting that we aren’t great at things. We don’t like feeling vulnerable or behind. We like to do what we already know how to do well and stick with that because its….comfortable.
But comfortable, in this case, isn’t a good thing. Comfortable is stagnant. Comfortable is just giving up. Never progressing. Always sitting in an air conditioned room, day after day, never venturing out into the heat because you’re afraid you might sweat. Being too comfortable is being too fearful. Not with me here? Check out this great post from Aimee (an Instagram friend) who blogs over at Mountain Mantras on why she’d rather not be comfortable. And frankly, I could not agree more. Comfortable is not only boring but also dangerous.
My favorite excuse people have when they don’t take advantage of opportunities is being busy. I hear it all the time in response to a myriad of things – like not working out more, not learning or trying new things, not traveling, not doing the things they say they love. Oh I wish I could do that but I’m too busy. I have such a busy schedule. My response to that is always the same, so do I! I run a business, have a family, and also try to manage a social life. And I have a very needy (and also adorable) pooch, to boot. And I work 7 days a week. But I still manage to do the things that I want to do and make time for things that will better me in the long-term because quite simply, you make things happen when they are indeed important to you.
My two studio managers (Liz and Nicci) and I were all at the studio from 6:30-3:30pm that day – on our Saturdays – we pulled a nine hour Saturday and all we were asking of other instructors was a simple two hours. I think people could have managed two hours out of their Saturdays to show up for themselves if they were truly dedicated to learning and enhancing themselves as instructors and practitioners.
I know that learning is one of the most difficult things in the world. It forces us to put aside what we think we already know and allow ourselves to process new information, ask questions and explore uncharted territory. Learning can be uncomfortable so it’s not a surprise that people don’t take advantage of opportunities to learn, it’s the same reason people never read a book, finish school, or worse yet, never learn from their mistakes.
My challenge to all of you – whether you’re a teacher, accountant, lawyer, barista, flight attendant, mom, dad, whatever – don’t be afraid to learn. Don’t just wish you could do something. Do the thing you wish you could do – you just need to learn how to do it.
What are you working on learning currently? What is something you’ve learned from learning something new?
Stay sweaty (and uncomfortable) friends!