By this time next week I will have taught my last yoga class for 2010.
The new session starts on Sunday, January 9, and in between, except for a few private classes, I don’t plan to tell anyone how to move their thighbones, align their feet or activate their shoulder blades.
Why take a break? Why so long?
Because it’s good for me, and I believe it’s good for my students too.
As a student, I was completely absorbed in my classes. To miss one, I would have to be sick in bed or out of town.
But when Wende’s classes ended for a winter or summer break, I relished my Thursday evenings at home, and my unscripted time.
In the break I practiced, as best I could, and sometimes got together with a yoga buddy who could meet when we would have been in class. But mostly I rested.
When I came back, the work was new again. Being away from class allowed the awareness I’d been cultivating to settle into my body – like Savasana, only longer.
As a teacher, I treasure evenings at home, more time to cook, dinner before 8 p.m. and lazy Sunday mornings.
I keep my practice going, but I also rest, because, by the end of 12 weeks of teaching, I’m tired.
In some regions of yoga world, this is heresy. As yogis, we’re supposed to be riding on a constant wave of energy that comes from being plugged into the source, like the Na’vi from Avatar only through our poses instead of our hair.
Don’t get me wrong. I love teaching yoga. Iyengar yoga is the best thing I’ve found in my life – wholly engaging, rewarding and transformational, and I want to share that with other people.
What yoga teachers really teach, inescapably, is their understanding of the whole of the work, yoga in life as well as yoga on the mat.
For me, that understanding deepens when I’m alone and quiet. I could be out walking, doing a practice with my teaching voice turned off, writing without a deadline, or sitting in meditation.
Whatever the outer activity, I’m essentially listening, filling up so I’ll have something to give. I take a break so I can talk less, and listen more. When you’re on your yoga break, I hope you’ll find the time for some quiet home practice, plugged into the source through your poses.
Image by Steve Evans babasteve, courtesy Flickr Creative Commons
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If you came to my classes at Yoga on 7th, you’d have been offered Chocolate Cappuccino Shortbread in the week before the break. Since I can’t give you all a cookie, here’s the recipe.
This recipe is from Five Star Food, my first cookbook with the Vancouver Sun, published in 1993. The recipe came from Jane Bailey, then a caterer in Ocean Park, south of Vancouver near the U.S. border, now a realtor. So I can say without self-aggrandizement that these may be the best Christmas cookies ever.
It really does matter that you use good chocolate. My favorite is Daniel’s 70 per cent cocoa mass, but any good bittersweet chocolate will do just fine.
Chocolate Dipped Cappuccino
Makes about 34 cookies
4 teaspoons (20mL) instant coffee
1 cup (250 mL) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (125 mL) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2mL) vanilla
1 3/4 cups (425 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 mL) cornstarch
6 ounces bitter-sweet Belgian chocolate, melted
Finely crush the instant coffee in a coffee grinder. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in instant coffee and vanilla.
Sift flour and cornstarch together, stir into the butter mixture. Mould into the shape of coffee beans, using one tablespoon (15 mL) of dough for each cookie. Using the back of a knife, press an indent about 1/8-inch (2.5-mm) deep, lengthwise, across the top of each cookie. Place on a greased baking sheet.
Bake at 325 F (160 C) for 15 minutes. Place on wire racks to cool.
Dip either one end or both ends of the cookies in chocolate. Place on baking sheet lined with wax paper and refrigerate.
Also, both poses require lengthening the buttocks away from the waist. Both of those actions continue in Salamba Sarvangasana I . And the shoulder blades move away from the ears, of course, in all three. Do you see a more subtle set of links between actions?