Author: David Bellot - Berkeley, CA, USA 08/12/2005

This Guy

Ahhh, the adopted persona…everybody’s got some sort of shtick. Maybe you’re a “that’s what she said” guy or you make funny noises a lot to entertain people. You like to pull quarters out of people’s ears or can switch hit between foreign accents for hours on end. There are tons of occasions when the shtick is sooooooo appropriate, but, really, there’s a time and a place to rein it in, isn’t there? Tying one on in a bar? Sure, seems fully reasonable. Maybe even meeting a new group of people at a dinner party is the right place to be the guy who does impressions all night long. But just like your work face might be a wee different than the real you, i.e., you have a mouth like a trucker in actuality, but you are wise enough to recognize the need to keep it clean in the workplace, your shtick should take a back seat in certain situations.

One of those certain situations is in the yoga studio. When an instructor is performing in class and, obviously, I don’t mean that an instructor shouldn’t command the attention of the students or not speak and present him or herself as the authority in the room. It’s going to be only a mediocre class when an instructor seems like she doesn’t believe what she says. It’s clear when an instructor doesn’t, in fact: you can just feel the lack of certainty, which can then be misinterpreted as a lack of passion (no yogi wants to be accused of lacking fervor for the practice), and it becomes challenging to relate to this person who struggles to share the energy and knowledge they possess with a group of yogis who are so absolutely willing and open to absorb the teachings. Back to my original thought, though: a showy, false-seeming persona makes it difficult to cut through the act to find the truth in the experience.

Recently, a friend who attends weekly Kabbalah lessons, discussions, meetings, what have you, recognized that his comedic personality (and he’s a pervy joke kind of guy, though, he’s a smart enough fella to know when to drop the I’ll-park-on-your-face jokes after you call him to say you’re running late because you’re having trouble finding a parking spot near the restaurant. He would never bust these beauties out in a Kabbalah lesson.) was not going over big with the teacher. Even though the teacher never mentioned it to him, my pervy friend could sense the disapproval and so he just straight up asked if his jokiness was inappropriate or a distraction to others in class. Long story short, my friend knows when to stop with the pranks and so will modify his behavior next week in class.

Yoga shouldn’t be serious all the time; it shouldn’t. We all “act” at least occasionally. There’s a line between the class being about the students and the class being about the instructor.Just like in everyday life, be you, always be you, and recognize the wisdom, growth and knowledge in pulling back, reading your crowd, delivering your message in the way you actually intend it to be heard.

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