Just Hop in There
I am so eternally grateful to be able to study yoga under some of the most talented and knowledgable teachers in Atlanta. Honestly, truly. And I don't just say that because it's 2 AM and I'm a little drunk off of blue apple martinis (although that may or may not be the case right now), I say that because it's the truth.
A little less than a year ago now when I was knee deep in the middle of my YTT I was assigned to assist and help provide modifications for 5 classes. I can't say for certain, but I'm pretty sure some of the other trainees signed up based on when they were available/what type of classes they were interested in teaching. I decided to take a different approach. I yoga'd enough at Active Sol to know what the classes were and who was teaching them, so even though the sign up sheets didn't mention instructors, I took a great deal of consideration into assisting teachers I had respect for.
Among those teachers was Caron, a dynamic, hard af instructor whose classes I could only describe as formidable (to say the least). I constantly frequented her 5:45 Monday Power Hour class, and (when I could convince myself to wake up) the 6 AM vinyasa flow on Thursday mornings.. So when signing up to assist teachers I decided right then and there that Caron was one of the teachers I wanted to learn from.
I signed up to assist one of her 5:45 Monday classes, and arrived 20 minutes early just to ensure I wasn't late (I probably shouldn't admit this, but punctuality once was NOT my strong suit). I roamed the studio, lit candles, and learned how to sign students in using MINDBODY online. But soon after something happened: one of my favorite teachers that I adored and looked up to received a phone call. I couldn't tell you who or what was the subject matter or on the other end of that call, but I can almost 99% assure you it wasn't good. I walked away to give this human being (idk about you, but sometimes I forget that even teachers are human too) some space. Whatever happened over the 3 or so minutes that the call transpired seemed to have a profound effect on this person I admired and may or may not have shaken her to the core. Either way once class got started it was like I couldn't even tell anything was wrong. It was back to the sunny disposition and challenging poses I had come to love her for.
If you've never been to a power class, or specifically one of Caron's, it can be a doozy! So one of the main things I was interested in was how she made adjustments while quickly and dynamically moving students through postures. But I observed in wonder and awe as she simultaneously adjusted and instructed everyone else, while keeping an eye on everything from the person she was offering modifications to, to me, to the students on other side of the room.
Power Hour quickly came to an end (as they tend to do) and I was worried that I hadn't made one modification during the entire thing. After all, wasn't I there to assist?! I lingered after class and walked out with Caron as she sauntered out of the studio. Could this really have been the same woman (seemingly) disparaged by whatever bad news she had heard just an hour earlier? I needed to know the secret to pulling it all together in a heartbeat. "How do you make adjustments knowing you teach such a fast paced, dynamic class?" I barely managed to get out as we walked to our respective cars. "You just gotta hop in there" she told me, as she recounted a brief story about how she asked the same thing during her 200 hour teacher training and how her teacher told her that she had to just have confidence and faith to just hop in there. Get in, make the adjustment with intention, and get out. Then Caron wished me luck with the rest of my teacher training journey, and off we were in different directions.
Whether it was the intention or not, Caron's advice is something that I take into every aspect of my life, not just my career as a yoga teacher. You see, I'm naturally an introverted person. I don't have (m)any friends, so when these words come to mind, more often than not it's less about making adjustments when I'm teaching a yoga class, and more about when I'm on the mat of life. And while I'm not perfect at it (there are many a day when I'd rather curl up at home and watch Frasier with a cup of tea) I take these words in mind when it comes to anything as simple as meeting a new friend for a drink or traveling to a new country on my own. Because if there's anything I've learned in my 26 years of living, it's that 'later' becomes 'never' and that you should do what you can with what you have where you are.
On that note, I'll end this with a quote by a little green guy from a movie I've never seen, "Do or do not, there is no try." Sometimes you just gotta throw caution to the wind and hop in there.