Monday, April 26, 2010

Clutter Cutting

Sometimes I think we yoga enthusiasts get lost in all our gentle terminology; words like cultivate, allow, engage, effortless. There’s nothing wrong with the words. They’re great words. Any one of them (and dozens more like them), can be the cue that changes how we experience a pose, a breath or a concept.

It’s when the words blend into blah, blah, blah patois that “gentle” can fade to anemic. Yoga Muzak may be more pleasant to listen to than elevator Muzak, but it’s still background noise.

What if you took a yoga class and on that day there was a posture that just wasn’t happening for you. And your teacher, instead of putting on a pair of white gloves and making a tasteful suggestion, took one look at you and said, “Dude. That is so not even close.”

You know I’m kidding, but every now and then it might be refreshing to let some breeze blow through what can sometimes feel like a rarified atmosphere. In the olden days, when I was in the advertising profession, we talked about “cutting the clutter.” If yoga is a method, a technology, for cutting through the clutter in our lives to find the hidden bit of “real” we know is there, doesn’t it make sense to keep our language clean, direct and sometimes startling?

Which brings me to a story about one of my yoga school buddies. (You know who you are, you of the cute new dress in Todos Santos who wishes she hadn’t eaten the fish from the street stall.) One afternoon, she was teaching our group and while I don’t remember the exact pose we were in, some of us began to get a little tired and some of us decided to exit said pose without explicit permission from our leader, who then spun around, glared at us and shouted, “You WIMPS!”

I guess it was just her way of suggesting that we allow ourselves to cultivate more energy.


  1. And occassionally it would be dandy to give direct feedback to the teacher, right after they have asked you to 'breath in' for the third time in a row, without a moment to 'breath out'; or mixed up the leg we're supposed to be working with; or turned up the music so loud as to drown out the instructor.

    Since there is no precedent for that, the alternative seems only to be mini mutinees.

  2. Love this, E. Thanks.

    One of my favorite teachers once led us through a complicated sequence and then mistakenly cued us to repeat the same side. Which we did. Towards the end she said, “Did we did just do this?” We said yes, so she asked us, “What would you like to do? Switch and do the other side twice?” We said sure. And the rest of the class was so much fun because that teacher/student barrier had disappeared. She wasn’t perfect, we weren’t perfect. Our yoga stopped being a speech delivered to an audience and turned into a lighthearted, honest conversation.

  3. oh my I am laughing so very hard right now... thanks for the post xoxoxo