A Matter of Trust
You are Here: Karma Yoga returns Wednesday, October 16th, from 7-8pm. Proceeds from this donation based class will go to Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS, a fantastic organization in the theatrical community. If you live in the New York City area and would like to attend, email firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information. Earlier this week, I celebrated the anniversary of my very first yoga teacher training. In remembering that first night we gathered in the studio, all too uncertain of how our love for moving and breathing would be transformed into the ability to make other bodies move in space, the phrase that was the standard-bearer of the training came back to me: Trust the process. I can see it coming out of half a dozen different mouths, each time subtly nuanced with emphasis and emotion, but the message the same. Wait to decide. Don’t judge yet. Do and feel what is here and now.
So I tried, and I trusted. And for the most part, I didn’t feel like I had a great need for that mantra in my first training. Speaking in front of people and acquiring a loose memorization of dialogue- these were skills I was ready for. My vinyasa training was a pretty straightforward ascent, without significant backslides, missteps, or stumbles. And I thought I got it.
When it came time to do my hot training, however, is when I realized that my trust in the process hadn’t been tested yet at all. Once again, the dialogue came easily enough. I’d been practicing the sequence myself for years, so I knew the order of the poses, the shapes they should make. But suddenly, I was in a room full of bodies. Bodies that were trained to move solely and exclusively according to the words I spoke. There was no music and no time to take a deep cleansing breath when nerves got the better of me and words like “foot” and “shoulder” suddenly eluded my tongue. The bodies freaked me out, especially when I caught the eyes staring at me in the mirror. Don’t DO that! I had wanted the same easy path in this teacher training, but I was called out on not being authentic, not being relaxed, being too mechanical and not interacting with the bodies. And I distinctly remember thinking “Well, this was okay, and it’s probably as good as it’s ever going to get. I am just destined to be a robotic, un-present, mediocre hot teacher.”
It’s easy to trust when things are going just as you planned, when everything is feeling groovy and great and all the odds are in your favor. And it’s even easier to look at every minor setback as surefire evidence that the process you have invested in is a complete waste of time, a load of feel-good garbage that might apply to others, but certainly doesn’t apply to you. Ahem…me.
Suffice it to say, that there was nothing for me to do in my hot training but keep going. Keep getting in the room, saying the words, growing accustomed to that dizzying sense of too much living flesh in my view and under my care. And now…now in class I can give adjustments for your left ear or your right big toe (yes, they matter). Now the bodies are people, with faces, names, and even personalities that I get a feel for through their practice. There was nothing I could do to make the settling happen any faster or any better-er. All I could do was keep going.
I’m trying to remember the same lesson now, as I dive more deeply into vocal technique, acting technique, and dancing technique. All I can do is keep showing up, doing the best that I can on that day in that moment. Eventually, my ankles WILL relax, my imaginary scene partner WILL stay in my vision for an entire song, and I WILL soften my jaw, lift my soft palate, flatten my tongue, narrow my sound, and sing high Qs all day long. And so will you. Whatever your version of high Qs may be, it will happen. There is no shortcut from A to Z, only a long journey through the rest of the alphabet. So whatever that road is for you, trust it. Take time to see, hear, and feel as you go. And I will do the same.