Lift the foot.
Lengthen the waist.
LOTS of instructions in our classes.
Refined instructions level the pelvis are directed towards experienced students.
More basic instructions bend the knees are aimed towards beginners still figuring out how to sit on the floor comfortably without wincing.
The yoga we practice is very very very hard.
Not hard like a long run is hard (though many runners can run harder when they practice yoga), or a workout class is hard (been there, done that, got the T-shirt), this yoga is hard because we are confronted with the truth of our physical habits.
We are faced with the patterns ingrained in our bodies, revealed when we train ourselves to see ourselves.
These ingrained physical patterns took years to accumulate, so it might take some effort to undo.
This undoing is serious work.
Which is why we laugh. ALOT.
We laugh because it takes way too much energy to pretend to be serious.
And since this is serious work and our aim is to build a practice that is personal and powerful, there are instructions.
If you are new to class, the instructions may sound a bit like a command.
Take the arm forward.
Yet nothing is EVER a command.
Every SINGLE instruction comes with an unspoken phrase, understood between teacher and student.
After every extend the arm and press the shins, trust that this teacher is silently adding on as best you can.
Of course new students might not be able to hear this silent as best you can, which is why all new students are required to come early to class, so I can explain it.
Reading this stuff on a "what to know before class" list tends not to work as well as a genuine one minute interaction between teacher and student.
So if you hear me say Robin anchor your right foot, trust that both Robin and I hear anchor your right foot as best you can.
And Robin, aware she is being asked to do the best she can, has the freedom to do the best she can TODAY.
Robin's decision of what instructions to take is ALWAYS up to her.
I am familiar with her practice, but her practice is HER practice.
SHE is living in HER body and I am not.
Robin might have just come from the airport and is ironing out the kinks associated with a twelve hour trip in a cramped seat. Or she just needs to quiet the chatter in her mind that has been going non-stop since she quit her job.
So Robin can freely choose whether or not to take the instruction.
I am sure I first heard about this unsaid as best you can from my favorite Texan Christina Sell. And if I did not, it is the exact type of thing she would say with humor and kindness as she somehow can manage to bring out the best in her students as they surprise themselves with the best they can.