A lesson I learned in yoga class.

Most of us get frustrated with our dancing at some point. Maybe it that we feel ‘stuck’ or bored. The frustration often builds sometimes to the point that we consider giving up dancing all together.  As a professional dance teacher I can assess the positives and negatives in my students pretty clearly but as a student its much harder to be objective. Here is a lesson I learned in yoga class this morning.

7am is early for a dance teacher! I don’t teach lessons on Fridays so I often drag myself out of bed to do an early morning hot yoga class.  This morning I set my intention for my practice (hidden lesson here) and off I went. My intention was to not push too hard as I tend to do with physical activities. As class progressed I was proud that I was holding back and working within my own limits and not pushing too much.

Class came to an end I was feeling great. I laid down on my back for the final pose shavasana! (otherwise know as corpse pose) Morbid I know but for some of us its the best part of class. It’s the part where you get to lie still with your eyes closed and enjoy the hard work of the last hour. It also provides an opportunity to focus on the present and not let your mind wander. (another hard thing for me)

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My dance teacher mind started racing.

I was laying on my back when my dance teacher mind started racing. I started to analyze my yoga teacher and wondered how she structured her classes. I wondered if she was ‘winging it’ or if there was a clear structure to her teaching. Teaching fascinates me so I started to formulate questions to ask her after class. YIKES…..I was supposed to be relaxing and letting my mind focus on the present. I finally quieted my mind and thats when I started to tune into some interesting things.

I started to pay attention to the ‘present moment’ but all I started noticing was a bunch of thing that I didn’t like!  First I was disappointed that my body wasn’t as relaxed as I though it should be. Then I noticed that my back was hurting a little bit. Ugh. There were so many things that I didn’t like and I was frustrated. I decided to work on relaxing my shoulders. (this has always been a problem for me in yoga) I rolled my shoulders down and back, turned my palms up and started to feel better. “Good” I though. Just then I was startled by my teacher. She started to gently push my shoulders to the ground making me keenly aware that I was not any better at this pose then when I started yoga 12 years ago. Ahhhh but then the lesson started to reveal itself. All of these things both good and bad were probably present during the whole class, it was merely that I was allowing myself to notice them that was leading to my frustration.

3 things occurred to me that I though I could use in my dance teaching. (and anything else really)

  1. Setting an intention each time you practice is powerful
  2. There are always positive and negative things going simultaneously
  3. How we chose to focus often dictates how we feel

In yoga we are taught to my mindful. We are taught to pay attention to our bodies and to do what we can in the moment. As a dance teacher its easy to have an objective opinion but as a novice yoga student I have to learn as I go. Fortunately I was quick to learn so I was able to walk away from class with not only a good workout but a lesson to pass on to my dance students. You can do the same each time you step on the dance floor.

Closing thoughts

Even in the times of frustration I promise there is an equal or greater amount of awesome things that are happening at the same time. Be mindful of whats not good. Sometimes my shoulders will sink into the floor in yoga and sometimes I need some help. Sometimes you will have good balance in your turns but sometimes you won’t. Put some time towards correcting the flaws, don’t expect a straight line of progress but set the intention that your journey in dance is a worthwhile one.

All the best in dance,

Brian B

Interesting end to the the yoga class story. I did talk to to the teacher. She taught the exact same class for her entire first year teaching to learn a structure.  Now much like me she reads the room each class but the basic structure is entrenched in her mind so its not hard for her to wing it. When she inquired as to why I was asking I told her I owned a ballroom dance studio. “Oh you know I dance for the Louisville ballet.” She replied.

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Want some more interesting reading? Check out my earlier post on posture and why I think its important not only in dance but in life@