I’m teaching for a week at Yoga Center in two of their locations. I have been invited by Anette and Alicia both of the most generous people I’ve ever met. I’m staying with Alicia in her home with her kids and adorable Burmese Mountain dogs, one of which is a puppy, a veritable breathing stuffed animal.
I was asked to teach dynamic, mixed level classes that were different each class. Whew.
The studio is huge, bright and in a very exclusive neighborhood. The students are warm, welcoming and generous to meet me linguistically since I’m teaching in English. One day, it’ll be in Spanish? Maybe. They all speak much better english than my spanish will ever be. Though it makes me very aware of how I swallow sentences, speak too much or too colloquially. It’s a great experience to clean up my language something we respect and demand in Iyengar yoga. Yesterday we did standing poses and today continued with the standing twists. Class are mixed level which offers a challenge for me – to challenge the experience and to give options for the beginners. But I hear Mary Dunn speaking in my head saying that even the most basic poses are challenging for the experienced students. They are all sweating and grunting. Just wait until tomorrow.
We went on a walk through Parque Mexico where the dog trainers lay them down in a line, a smorgasbord of dog breeds. It was amazing though I sensed the dogs were there more under compulsion pressure…they didn’t seem happy. AFter the dogs, we had the most DEEElicious chai on the park’s edge. Oh urban life. I sat eating my Flor de Jamaica enchiladas watching people walk on the street and yes I am an urban girl at heart having a needed rest in the very small town of San Miguel.
Today I taught forward bends. Dynamically. I’m exhausted! After teaching, I “lead” a study group. I’m quite amazed at the commitment and study of these teachers. Very serious and very supportive. If we had anything in NYC that was different it was stress, competition and hierarchy. Does this make it better training? I myself am quite enjoying the open spirit to learning and the kindness, intelligence and hard work of the students here. They have had an amazing influence of teachers from around the world and take that information in and create their own understanding.
My last few days in Mexico were a blur. Backbends for 5 hours including a teacher’s class and then a delicious lunch in a penthouse apartment of a fellow but not Iyengar yoga who talked like a Jewish girl from California and made me feel sooooo at home and read my coffee grinds – (wow, you are working hard!) followed by another sleepless night of a turmoil of excitement and thoughts. The last class I taught in the funky (my now favorite) hood of Condessa.
I’m just amazed by the community here. Everyone seemed to honestly like the week and get much out of it. In Mexico, it is true that someone can say “let’s get together” and never mean it. It’s a culture and a language that is so full of frequently used adjectives like padrismo, riquisimo, increible, delicioso it makes one wonder if its genuine.
I feel that they have the unique situation of having teachers come to them a few times a year rather than the constant eyes of a senior teacher. Now, this can be looked down upon but what I see are students taking in information from all around and assimilating it into their experience. Challenged by the lack of senior teachers or a formal assessment structure of their own, there has been much hot discussion, but when asked Guruji has replied (in paraphrase) do what is best for Mexico. How much freedom and beauty in that statement. Don’t copy, don’t fall to the bullying of other countries perspectives, don’t think you are inferior but instead culminate, collate, integrate all the information to create what is right for Mexico.
Speaking of difference of teaching, the bodies of women here are well…..women. Round, voluptuous, and full. In NYC, I think I was one of two with a body of curves. The teacher that was considered “curvy” was far from a B cup, I’m just saying. So here, what is important to teach, what actions to teach versus elsewhere because the bodies are different!
There is something to be said for the competitive, driven environment of NYC where you are pushed, pulled and bullied into excellence. Nothing isn’t questioned, critiqued or judged. The outcome is stellar teaching but I think only certain personalities survive in this atmosphere and others equally valuable don’t. I think that standard of excellence is very important but here in Mexico the attitude is one of interchange of information without immediate criticism or rejection. They take in what is given to them and then chew on it if you will and either make their own. I would hate to see Mexico just looking towards the US, as it does for many things, ignoring it’s own strengths and uniqueness. Instead, see the standard and reach for it in your own way with your own understanding of excellence. Different values are valued here and they have to be incorporated and not thrown out because it’s not important in the other places. After all, yoga is a path of self study. And so as instructed, do what is best for Mexico.
I’m beyond honored to feel a part of this warm community. And I do. A little lost ex-pat in San Miguel now anchored in a community of Iyengar yogis!