Janet MacLeod Workshop Recap

I live really close to Tree House Yoga, an Iyengar yoga studio in Shoreline, a suburb adjacent to Seattle on I-5 North. This past weekend, Senior teacher Janet MacLeod came up from San Francisco for a workshop, and though I had never worked with her before, I came to see what I could learn from her.

Janet immediately put me at ease with her smile and Scottish humor. She told us stories from classes she’s taught, like when Mr. Universe came to her class all oiled up, and classes she’s taken, like the time she was in a really small class with Geeta Iyengar, and Ms. Geeta “seemed to be everywhere I turned to”, which kept people on their toes (and heels) because, as Janet put it, “usually you’re in class with 800 other people, and you can get away with a thing or two.”

Her jokes made me temporarily forget that I was working really hard. We were in variations of Upavistha Konasana for what seemed like eternity, her instructions for Salamba Sarvangasana put me in the most hardest shoulderstand I’d done yet, and I could barely maintain a seat with Jalandhara Bandha for Pranayama for any respectable length of time.

One thing Janet said that’s stuck with me is about the asana and our resistance: “When you’re doing an asana, there’s always a part of you that resists, that doesn’t want to do it, so you have to work with that.” She said that this is a theme that Prashant, Mr. Iyengar’s son, works with a lot.

This reminds me of an article I recently read about some truths and myths of being fit, in which the author, Daniel Duane, learned from rehab specialist Kevin Brown that: “Somewhere inside every man’s body, there’s a weak link, a weak muscle waiting to fail.” Kevin Brown’s job, working with world-class athletes, was to find the weak muscle, and of course, make it strong.

How true is that for some other things in life too. Sometimes the resistance is more, sometimes less, but it’s always there. For me, waking up at 5 to go to the gym is a daily negotiation. Meditating at least 15 minutes every day? Another struggle. Creating? Designing? Writing in my blog, or writing anything? Pulling teeth. Wisdom teeth.

This is like, some sort of sign for me, who’s constantly working with things like writer’s block and designer’s block and yoga blocks (ha!). The work is clear, in Asana, Pranayama, and in matters off the mat: there’s always something resisting, how can we figure out what it is? How do we work with it?