Felicity Green Workshop Recap

When I signed up for Felicity’s workshop, I had heard a few things about her, and I was prepared for them. One of those things is that she is a sort of “my way or the highway” teachers.

She gave us a homework to reflect and write about our relationship to things that are of shreya and things that are of preya nature.  In short, preya are things that are pleasant, but may or may not bring you the results you want. Shreya are things that you avoid, but they’re things that are good for you, like bitter Chinese medicine.

During a discussion, a student in class spoke out that she was in fact angry at Felicity for being adamant about putting her in a certain pose that she feared would cause her injuries. Felicity then replied with something that left me thinking a lot.

“You are like the small young birds, you all are,” said Felicity Green, “My job is to give you the worms that I’ve found. My job is to give you what I’ve learnd and found. Your job,” she said with emphasis, “Is to take it, digest it, take the nutrients that you need, and leave what you don’t need. Your job is to also tell me what doesn’t work for you. But recognize that sometimes you don’t do things out of fear, and it’s my job to help you work through your fear.”

Wow.

The Role of a Teacher, the Role of a Student

This really got me thinking, because as a student, for the longest time, I shunned and shied away from the “mean teachers.” I am in yoga to relax. I didn’t need to stress out because my feet weren’t in the place someone thought they ought to be. I much preferred the classes where I could groove to DJ McYogi dropping some beats while I became one with the Universe.

As my practice grew, I realized that some of tactics used by the “mean teachers” had a purpose. They were trying to keep me in my body. They were keeping me and my attention in the room, and not off to some fantasy land. (Of course, there are teachers who are, well, working on their own stuff too.) As a teacher, I’ve also learned that I can definitely be overprotective, or I can try to hard to win the approval of my students. I’ve learned that if you over-coddle someone, you can also stunt their growth.

What a delicate line it is to walk, to be both a supporting, encouraging teacher, and also to be firm and authoritative. Also, how do you know what’s good for someone? Experience, for sure, and experience is what Felicity has. At 77, she is strong and graceful. She said that Mr. Iyengar, who is still practicing at age 94, gives her the inspiration to continue to practice and teach.

The Role of a Sangha

On the third day of the workshop, I brought my mom, who had been practicing Iyengar yoga for 3 years. She’s turning 61 this year, and she was afraid that she’s getting too old to “be good” at yoga. I think it was good for my mom to see other older practitioners, and of course, Felicity. It’s no big secret that you can be any age and practice yoga, but seeing others like yourself doing it is both encouraging and reassuring that you aren’t alone.

And speaking of alone, at the end of the workshop, Felicity said that there aren’t very many people who are truly dedicated to yoga, studying it and also practicing it in their own lives. So, if you find them, make friends with them, create a community with them. She said it’s nice to have people who understand the work you’re doing.

And so, to you, whomever you are reading this blog, thanks for being a part of this. Thanks for somehow being on this path with me.

And thank you, Felicity.