My husband and I were at dinner tonight and we were reflecting back over the hundreds of yoga teachers we have had the pleasure of taking class from.
Here is our top 10 list for what we think makes for a great teacher!
Not necessarily in this order....
1. They bring to class a playlist that inspires or they lead us in kirtan
2. They make the class fun- and bring in a good sense of humor
3. They are able to reach (almost) everyone with precise cueing
4. They know how to use silence--(totally underutilized by 90% of teachers~)
5. They show humility & walk the talk
6. They provide( juicy) adjustments and are competent in their knowledge of correct alignment
7.They are able to hold space--and you don't feel like they are 'dialing it in'
8. They trust the class and encourage students to follow their inner guidance--are flexible and allow for experimentation
9. They have a theme /provide some specific meaning for the class
10.They can demonstrate a breadth of modification for both newbies and advanced students. They know how to sequence the class
(In looking through my old journals I saw this list of 126 yoga teachers that I had the pleasure of taking classes from up until 2008. After that I stopped counting!)
When I was in Guatemala, Aimee and I had a side conversation about 'your' spirit animal and finding it through Shamanic work. She said that she had done this a few times and how powerful it was for her working with a guide. I told her that I have drawn cards in the past to figure out which spirit animal(s) are mine but it's been awhile, maybe it will be fun to take a journey by myself to find it. She said "It's not the same without a guide, but," she quickly reassured, "maybe you can do it..." Her voice trailing off not sounding too convincing.
That night I did some "healing" journeying a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy technique I often do on myself but this time with the purpose of finding my spirit animal. An Elephant came through (Ganesh) The Indian God of overcoming obstacles. I saw the wrinkles of his thick trunk and legs and even went over to touch it. It was 130a and I was having insomnia but had entered this space between wake and sleep. After seeing and touching Ganesha's wrinkly body, I fell into a deep sleep.
In my dream that night I was being stalked by a rat. I had trouble evading it. It kept following me around. A rat!? I thought, the worst animal! My shadow?
But lastly in the morning my thought was a reassuring one,
Aimee might be right, this work might better be done with a guide. :-]
A colleague of mine last Friday said, “Hey I would love to get together with you for a meeting or lunch to talk about suicide and what to watch for when I see clients.” And for a minute I was speechless. What to say?
Do I tell him my credentials-25+ years in and out of the profession? That I used to talk in schools and to community organization on suicide prevention? The statistics? The stories I hold dear to my heart.
The wounds that are still there as I think back and back…
Do I start with my older client who took his life? He was at a crossroad and just started in care. He had his first visit with me and we made a "therapeutic connection." I was filling in for another nurse who had left. The first meeting was overall light; it had humor and an existential component to it. He denied any thoughts of suicide when the typical question was asked.
Yes, there were stressors, financial; health the future would be better though. All would be well, I thought.
He missed his next appointment and left a message. I was busy. I didn’t return the call but asked the receptionist to call him. I had a cancelation the next day. I could see him then. The receptionist told me, he really wants to talk to you, he likes you. I was busy there wasn’t any time. There didn't seem to be any urgency in the message. He was on my schedule for the next day…
My thoughts were into the future. Annoyed that he wanted to talk by phone but had been a ‘no show’ at his last appointment. I needed to be firmer and not give in so much. I should have called. I didn’t. I didn’t know. She may have sensed something and tried to convey it to me but I wasn’t listening. He never made his appointment the next day. He killed himself. I was numb--did this really happen?
I still had her paper message on my desk. She hugged me and said it wasn't your fault. How could you have known? She then said that her father had killed himself. Ironies....His ex called me. She thanked me for the care that I gave him that one day. She didn’t seem surprised. There were problems, problems I hadn’t uncovered in our one meeting.
Lindsey. I was young when we worked together and she was even younger than I. I thought us much older than we were. I had a daughter and was married. I was 24 or maybe 25. Lindsey was maybe 19. She was a recovering addict. She was pretty and light-hearted. She had a boyfriend. Her life was back on track. We all liked her. She went to Brockport for school. She was going to be a social worker. We monitored the hall together one day on the adolescent dual diagnosis unit where we both worked. I had a Grief Group planned for later in the week, ironically. She was telling me that she had a tough week. She told me the story. It was ludicrous the semblance of disorder that occurred for her. Comical really, I laughed and laughed. She stepped back and laughed too.
But she wasn’t really laughing. She was in deep pain. I didn’t know or understand. I didn’t want to see the other Lindsey the girl who had used drugs to try to numb I don’t know what. The girl who had problems. I just saw the Lindsey at work. The lighthearted, funny likeable one. Sweet and innocent. A breath of fresh air on the unit where there could such heaviness.
That week she killed herself. Denise my friend the social worker sat me down in the lobby to tell me. I had taken a day off and hadn’t heard yet. I was devastated. The funeral was devastating.
Martha the night nurses’ son took his life the following week. He had asked his mom for the gory details of Lindsey’s death and wanted to know why she didn’t try something easier, more peaceful. The cues were there but went unnoticed. The next thing she knew he was dead. She was empty when she told us. It was unfathomable that there were two deaths back to back but this is often how it happens. My Grief group was canceled. There was too much Grief to run a group.
All these thoughts flicker as I listen to my colleague’s question. Yes, we can talk. We can meet for lunch and I will share what I know.
Maybe I could say:
Suicide is a permanent choice (that cannot be undone) to a temporary problem(s)
That the ripple of pain it leaves doesn’t go away
That life will always ebb and flow—it is never fixed. It will get better.
Change is a known entity in life
Even though it seems bleak right now, there is help
There are numbers to call (National) and in Buncombe and surrounding counties (see below)
If you reach out to someone and you don't get the help you need, keep going, don't stop trying
And to my colleague:
National Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Buncombe County 1-888-573-1006
*Please note this is a personal, self reflection and not meant as professional advice
If you, or a loved one or friend is suicidal please seek professional attention immediately...
**for Privacy purposes (re: my client) parts of this story have been changed.
Storytelling from on and off the mat