We were in the midst of learning about the art of assisting in yoga. Lovely details about how using language and “presspoints” to enable yoga practitioners to find the wisdom of their own bodies to meet a pose, rather than being manipulated into one by the force of a teacher’s intention. Also highlighted was the value of “nurturing touch” as a way to convey the support and love of a teacher…even when the posture wasn’t in need of actual assistance.
Good stuff, for sure.
A young woman was curious about how to negotiate the fact that the population she would be working with, natives of the Bahamas islands, are culturally predisposed to not being receptive to physical touch.
“Jamaicans are usually pretty open, aren’t they–at least the women are, right?” queried one of the lead teachers.
“No, they are from the Bahamas,” the young woman asserted.
“Yes, but Jamaicans…,” the teacher stumbled further.
“No, they’re Bahamians…” “…they’re like British…” , “…Bahamas Islands…”, “…Not Jamaicans…,” everyone nearby tried to help her off the slippery slope she tread down.
“Oh! i’m having difficulty with the Jamaicans that live next door to me,” blurts the teacher. “oops! it slipped in here! hee! hee!” she giggles with her usual contagious effusiveness.
Needless to say, we moved quickly along to the next thing which was a silent demonstration of setu bandhasana by Slippery Slope teacher. The demo, which was a fine one, was met by what was still overly enthusiastic “oohs” and “aahs” and noticings of how intimate she seemed, how grounded, how connected.
As long as her setu bandhasana is impressive, who cares if Bahamians and Jamaicans are two distinctly different peoples and cultures of the african diaspora with different sensibilities from different islands that actually even have different names?
If you know your asana, i guess you can’t also be an asana, too.