Please Don’t Judge.

Via on Apr 13, 2013
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Day one of Second Series Intensive with David Garrigues … 75 minutes into my two-hour Mysore practice:

DG: Peg, you doing the rest of your practice?
ME: No. I’m tired. I’m done.
DG: (quizzically, as if he didn’t hear my first answer) Peg, you doing the rest of your practice?
ME: Yes. just taking a little rest. 
DG: (smiles)

Of course. This is my teacher. DG. Not known for his lackadaisical approach to teaching … whose most frequent direction to me is “N0, Peg!” … a fiery and passionate powerhouse, who can teach for 10 hours straight with no break.

He prepared our group for the week by letting us all know that he was a high speed locomotive and the next five days would be full steam ahead—no stalls, no stops.

I finished my practice and in true DG style, as he forwarded me, onward and upward. Of course.

Day two (today) began with a led second and I was beyond nervous.  I’ve never had to practice this series to a teacher’s count—a high speed train, with no stops to fix my pony tail or pretend to straighten my towel.

My friend Laura assured me it wouldn’t be so bad. My friend Tova said I’d be alright. But they lied.

Half way in, I knew I was in trouble. My arms started to give and my body started shaking. Had I been in the back of the room, I would’ve escaped—but no, my mat was up front and dead center. And the conductor himself stood at the head, his feet were all I could see when I feebly lifted my head from the ball I ultimately curled myself into.

I think they call it child’s pose, but I don’t know because I’ve never heard an Ashtanga teacher actually call it.  

From my huddled position, I wanted to tell him how hard a few weeks month it’s been for me.  I wanted to explain that I’m usually much stronger, that I’ve just been having such a rough time and I’m just so damn tired.

Finally I muster the nerve to lift my head and face my teacher’s inevitable disappointment—but when our eyes meet, he just smiles. He doesn’t scold, he simply smiles back with genuine warmth. Like it’s okay. Like it doesn’t really matter.

Like perhaps,  it never really mattered.

And when my body took rest, the rest of me joined. I felt that choking sensation deep in my chest of the sobs that begged to erupt. Another time, I would hold them captive lest someone discover my vulnerability in a rare show of tears—and judge me weak.

But his smile reminded me I was safe. My acceptance in his room was not defined by whether I bust out galavasana or bust down in tears—it was unconditional. So I laid on my back and I wept. And instead of feeling weak, I felt grateful instead. To finally let go.

As DG would explain in a later discussion:  To serve others, you remove the judgment.

And when we remove the judgement, we give those we love and serve the space to be not as we want or think they should be—but who they are, in that moment. It’s the gift of a teacher, a friend, and a loved one—but also the gift of our practice as well. The open invitation to connect with what’s real, without pretense, in an effort to see our true self through the eyes of acceptance.

Because in the end, our judgment serves no one … and most especially not ourselves.

 

Now, if you want to cry—check out this video of DG taking kapotasana to the wall!

 

Like elephant Ashtanga on Facebook.

 

Ed: Kate Bartolotta

 

About Peg Mulqueen

With a gentle warmth and contagious sense of humor, Peggy shares her passion of life and love with all those she meets. She was a counselor for many years before stumbling upon one of the oldest forms of healing therapies: yoga. Since then, she has been helping others lead lives of change and renewal, exploration and—all from a yoga mat. When not on her mat, Peggy (her husband and two children close at hand) can be found on a surf board in Maui—learning to fall off gracefully and get back up, or suspended 500 feet in the air on a zip line over a Costa Rican jungle—conquering her fear of heights, or searching for the perfect cast, fly fishing in the wilder places of Montana. You can follow her adventures in yoga on her blog here.

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3 Responses to “Please Don’t Judge.”

  1. Ana Lydia says:

    Thanks for this lovely post Peggy. I wish we could train ourselves to be non-judgmental of others. It's so hard to be judged all the time but not to do the same in return, but those who master the art of not judging others and accepting them as they are. break trough the barriers of time and space. Your trainer sounds like an amazing person :)

  2. @pegmulqueen says:

    thank you so much for taking the time to respond! and i agree – on all counts! xo

  3. That was beautiful! I really, really enjoyed reading your experience, and loved the DG quote at the end. Please keep writing; my favorite pieces are like this….the ones that take you there in the moment that you were practicing. Makes me wish I didn't miss my practice this morning.

    -Renee

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