Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Called Out

OK, here's my disclaimer...I'm not sure you can say it's being called out if you're calling yourself out.  Can you?


I woke up this morning with the thought running through my head...if I'm so passionate about preserving the integrity of Yoga, why am I not teaching yoga?

Alright, I'll bite...why not?

And this is where the conversation in my head ends (thank godness, right?  Or it might just get a little creepy...).  I could list the one-thousand-and-one reasons I'm not teaching anything, much less yoga, but I'll spare you the details.  The one true answer seems to be the most important one...I'm scared.  Not scared of the actual teaching part, but of the responsibility involved.  The massive, crushing responsibility of it all.

When I wrote yesterday about the class I went to and how frustrated I was that it wasn't "mindful" as it was supposed to be, what really bothered me was how thoughtless it was of the student's safety.  Sloppy transitions from one pose to the next, not enough cues given on alignment and structure.  Pair that with a pace that was simply too fast to be mindful of anything we were doing and you've got injuries just waiting to happen.  I should know...I herniated two discs in a yoga class 18 months ago.

I was one hundred hours into my own yoga teacher training when it happened.  A student in four classes per week was the norm for me at that time.  In the middle of one of those classes, I leaned into a seated forward fold when a shooting pain in my low back that translated as a blinding flash of white light across my vision consumed me.  Laying back as slowly and gingerly as I could, I remained laying flat for the rest of the class and barely made it to my car to drive home.  I had no idea what had happened to me -- I had never known pain like that before.  An MRI showed two herniations, one between L3/L4 and one between L5/S1.

Let me be clear -- I blame no one and nothing for my injury.  If my low back was that unstable, the injury was brewing and could have happened anyplace.  But for the sake of my learning process on this journey called life, it happened in yoga class while I was training to be a teacher.  The implications for my future as a teacher felt huge.

My own teacher-training instructor who was teaching that yoga class was experienced, had been teaching -- and training teachers -- for many years.  And yet I didn't learn until a year later when I happened upon an article in Yoga Journal, that anyone prone to low back issues should either avoid seated forward bending poses or take great care in their alignment, specifically the tilting of the pelvis forward, to create enough space in the low back to keep stress off the discs.  It was news to me.  Halfway through a yoga teacher training program and I had never known this crucial information about the alignment in this very basic pose.

What else didn't I know?  What else wouldn't I know when my training was done?

I had trusted my teacher not only to teach me and prepare me to teach, but also to keep me safe in her yoga classes.  And yet she didn't know it either.

Which begged the question: How can I in good conscience teach when I can't keep my students safe?  It didn't seem to bother the teacher I had yesterday...and I can't quite figure it out.

At the core of the whole situation is the dilemma about where the responsibility of the teacher ends and the student's begins.  I knew my low back had given me trouble over the years and never researched which poses were contraindicated.  Honestly, I never once thought I was at risk.  It's just as likely my own hubris caused my injury.  But if I were the teacher in my situation and witnessed a student injuring themselves in one of my classes, I would feel responsible.  Not a shred of doubt in my mind.  As it turns out, my teacher was able to relinquish the responsibility to me.  Somehow, neither quite feels right.

Perhaps this is one of those Life Experiences that would make me a better yoga teacher, should I choose to continue in my training.  Should I choose to.  Should I choose to?  That is the question.//

What's For Dinner Tonight?
Much cooler temperatures blew in on the back side of some much needed rain -- the result is the cool, wet weather more typical of this time of year.  And is frankly a big part of the Fall in Minnesota that we know and love.

Of course then, our thoughts turn to comfort food...Black Bean Chicken Enchiladas are front and center this evening, along with a taste of the Great Lakes Brewing Company's Oktoberfest and the first fire of the season.  It doesn't get much better than this!  Sit back as I spin you a tale of tonight's adventure...

Black Bean Chicken Enchiladas
I'm using leftover black beans from the Huevos Rancheros from Saturday's breakfast.  We always "build our own" since we like different things in and on them.  I prepare each of our enchiladas in a separate pie plate, which serves as their baking dishes.

1 - 7" flour tortilla in a pie plate

black beans (canned, prepared on your own - recipe to follow next time, refried beans, whatever's on hand)

grilled chicken (can grill that day, use leftovers like we are, or go vegetarian...all are good)

shredded cheese (tonight we used Kerrygold Dubliner White Cheddar...awesome!)

red pepper
sour cream
you name it, it's good.  Let your creativity run wild!

Place your fillings in the center third of the tortilla, careful not to fill too full, or you won't be able to get it closed and turned over.  Like so...

When your inner masterpiece is perfected, fold both ends in and turn it over so the opening is on the bottom.  Like so...

Top with your choice of enchilada sauce and garnish.  I'm a huge green sauce fan and my favorite is Rick Bayless's Frontera Green Chile Enchilada Sauce.  YUM!

Bake for 20 minutes at 425 or until cheese is lightly browned and sauce is bubbly.  (I already ate and doing this post is making me hungry!)

We munched on our favorite chips and salsa while sipping my new favorite Oktoberfest...

The chips are from the Whole Grain Milling Co. from Welcome, MN and are the best chips around -- we've got everyone we know hooked on them.  Thick, crunchy yet freshly tender, they hold up to any salsa or dip.  And they're organic -- can't beat that!

The salsa...well, I like to call it Bootlegger Salsa (I won't even put a picture of it's not safe!) because to get it, you have to go to Jerry's supermarket in Edina, go to the deli and ask for Moe -- I so wish he were would make the story so much better!  (BTW, Moe is my maiden name.)  The best part is this: When you ask for Moe, he asks what you want, you ask for salsa and he says, "Who's asking?"  And you have to explain yourself.  It's...that...good!  Handcrafted, fresh and uberly delicious!  The mystery itself is what gives the salsa its signature zippiness.  Cross my heart.

And the beer, mmmmmmmm beeeeeeeer (that Homer's a good man).  The more I taste Great Lake's beers, the more I learn about them, the more I love them and are grateful we get their beers in this market.  Socially conscious and sustainable helps this phenomenal beer taste even better, I swear.  Rich, almost creamy, balanced malt and hops.  Go get won't regret it.

Wishing you a warm and comfortable night!

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