May 25, 2012

A Lesson of Non-Judgment Taught By The Student. ~ Kayla Q. Frawley

Like most things beautiful and full of fire this story was ignited by student(s) ability to put the teachers ego in check.

One of my instructors once said that we should (if we do count our practice in increments of time) count our practice through the measurement of time in decades. Sharing this concept with my students allows me to stay on the same page with the majority of people I work with.

Throughout the few years of teaching yoga I have experienced a great shift in my practice. It is an honor and privilege to teach, as it is an honor and privilege to practice. Experiencing yoga as a teacher is much like observing a service to many people for various reasons.

Within time I am continuously learning that no one can judge or assume how the practice serves certain people, how to measure progress or success of others. It was a tough lesson for me to just simply accept that students who have been with me for a while may have a different idea of progression, success and potential then I have.

What a beautiful thing it is to accept that a student’s potential is a measurement they make on their own.

As I continue to read blogs, articles and journals by fellow instructors, practitioners and yogis alike it becomes more and more clear how vast yoga is, how many people it serves, and on different levels how it has materialized in the west at the exact perfect time for so many people.

It seems to be a great subject of analytical blogging, a perfect reason to create a facebook page (‘like’ teacher: Ms. Kayla Q Frawley), a great way for people who want to show the interface their physical flexibility, a common reason to open an account on youtube.

A nice contemplation of attempting to wrap yoga’s success in the west is the documentary ‘Yoga, Inc’. The documentary intricately explains how yoga has become an 18 billion dollar industry in the United States, and in the near future is expected to exceed Coca-Cola’s annual revenue.

We can mold our opinions, blog till we die and converse for decades about the complexities in capitalism’s famous and strategically mastered trend-setting technique of putting materials over matter.

Whether that trend produces yoga toes, the most amazing and supportively sexy yoga bra, customary yoga mats or your first taste of the vast quantity of literature on yoga for dogs.

…But, who am I to judge (my) students if they chose to buy the most expensive yoga mat, wear yoga toes (which I recently discovered work well), come to class half naked or enter dozens of yoga contests a year in which a picture of their asana is competing with another on the interface for cash prizes, a ticket to a limited paradise yoga retreats or (this is the latest) for a make-up coupon and personal photo shoot.

Who am I to think that because they are using these mechanisms or taking their ‘yoga journey’ down these paths that they are not genuine or ‘letting go of their ego enough’ or not really ‘progressing’ in their practice.

I am no one to do that.

I am no one to measure their potential.

They have their own route to success, and whatever it may be as long as they feel good doing it and are not hurting themselves while doing it, well, shit, good for them.

Some of the best yoga teachers I have had and have learned from have all shared something in common: They let their students experience their own practice.

Wouldn’t it be great to give students more freedom, more material so that they decide how to express themselves and in the broader perspective doesn’t this give them more reason to practice?

I can’t express the reward one receives when you observe people learning, but not by memorization nor by repetition but by watching a student intellectualize a movement, a dance, a portrait, a painting or something as simple as a word in their own language, in their own body, with their own breath and rhythm.

No matter how we celebrate or measure our success in anything I find it a good lesson to remember to celebrate the various types of measurement, just as we celebrate the various types of expressing how we relate to one another and the world.


Esa chica es una sister, daughter, teacher, student, dancer, capoeirista, yogini always in support of the expression of others through art, language, education and culture. Watching her people from the internal and external point of view. Encouraging and supporting her brothers from Minneapolis to Philly to Berkley and Oakland, from the streets and ghettos of the US to Ciudad Juarez to the campesinos of Central America to the artists and writers from the deep south to the Zapatistas everywhere. Check out where she is teaching, or if you crave the gift of sharing: www.facebook.com/ms.kaylafrawley


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Editor: Carolyn Gilligan

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