by Blakeney Schick
We’re only a few weeks into teacher training, but one thing has already become clear to me: To consider becoming a teacher, I am becoming a different kind of student. And, in fact, I already am. There are ten other people in the program and I can’t speak for them, but in my case, I’m becoming a student who finds herself thinking about muscle attachments before she even open her eyes in the morning, who thinks about the rotation of arms and legs an awful lot, and who is making flash cards for the first time in 12 years.
But that’s only part of it. For me, the challenges I’m facing are new, unfamiliar, and kind of exciting. Returning to a beginner’s mind has become a whole lot easier since I discovered that I couldn’t name a single muscle in the shoulder girdle that’s working in a given pose. Trying to be patient because, although I’m building a teacher’s tool box, it currently only has that weird Allen wrench thing from Ikea and a few Phillips head screws in it — that can make me anxious sometimes. But I can be calmer when I recognize that, right now, I’m exactly the only person on earth expecting to find more tools in that box. Working with this new set of challenges and all this new information can be daunting. But I draw a lot of comfort from looking around the room during our teacher training sessions and seeing 10 incredibly smart and motivated people working alongside me — each with their own set of brand-new challenges.
The Mala community has been very supportive of us. And curious, too. So here’s my answer to how it’s going so far: I’m making room for this evolution of my practice, and I’m learning a lot — about myself, about the human body, about how we can change and grow. Some day soon you may find me in class, staring at your shoulder girdle (I’ll have learned the muscle names by then, I promise). And I will approach your shoulders — and whatever else — as this different kind of student. I will try to approach them with a beginner’s mind, my steadily filling tool box, and the knowledge that this process is only starting. And that is how my practice is growing and changing now. It’s new, pretty unfamiliar, and definitely exciting.
Blakeney Schick is a public radio producer who follows events and elections. She started going to yoga 8 years ago in the hopes that it would help her stand up straighter. It has. But she’s stayed on the mat because yoga’s also made her stronger in every possible way. Blakeney found her way to Mala in late 2007, and finished Mala’s 200-hour teacher training in 2012. She is also a regular contributor to the Mala Yoga blog.