Ashtanga Yoga With Antonella
Ashtanga, yoga, mysore, teaching


Some of the fondest memories I have of growing up are of the times I spent with my grandparents. My Grandma, who passed away earlier this year, was a strong willed, opinionated, energetic woman. I would go with her to visit my Great-Grandmother and “the girls” (my Grandma’s 60 year old cousins) for lunch or afternoon tea. She took me to plays, to get ice cream, and let me burn off my boundless energy by teaching me to belt out Spanish folk songs and dance for everyone’s amusement. My Grandfather, who traveled on business, would bring me back sweets that were popular in whatever region of the country he had been. Though he was known as being quite a disciplinarian when my Mom was growing up, he always had a kind word and a smile for me. I loved my Grandparents, they were what every kid needs: the antithesis to the strict parents that lay down the law and make you eat your vegetables.

Then there was my Mom. She told me to make my bed, no, not just pull the blanket up to cover the bed, but actually MAKE the bed pulling the sheets tight and fluffing the pillows; you know the hard way. She made me do my homework, set the table, and never gave me dessert before finishing dinner. Sometimes I didn’t even get dessert because I hadn’t eaten all my dinner...sigh, she wasn’t fun like my Grandparents.

And yet...

Sometimes, when I teach, I feel like the un-fun parent. I take pride in getting to know my students. I don’t just learn about their bodies, I learn their personalities, quirks, the little things that make them special in their own way. I can tell if one of them is feeling off, if something is weighing on their minds, and I adjust what needs to be done accordingly. I try to make sure they do what has to be done to learn their practice correctly and safely, and at their pace. I try to nurture them.

Sometimes I’m tough, sometimes a little more accommodating. I know that some day they might leave my protective wing, become teachers themselves, or maybe move on to other teachers. Understanding that my role as their teacher may only last a few months or a few years, I want my students to leave with the best foundation possible, prepared for whatever lies ahead. I’m a parent.

Then you have the Grandparents. Most yoga students have at least one, maybe a full set. The visiting teachers, the workshop teachers; the teachers you see once a year as they pass by bringing you sweets from whatever part of the country (or world) they have been. They let you play, they let you eat a sundae and skip the broccoli. They give you poses that your regular teacher wouldn’t let you attempt, giving you time to burn off energy and push boundaries. They are fun, and completely necessary, just as my real life Grandparents were to me.

Grandparents wouldn’t be Grandparents if they had to raise you, their role would change. The person that sees you day in and day out, that is responsible for molding you as a person or as a student (in the case of a teacher like me) has a different responsibility. A Grandparent gets to enjoy you without added constraints. So enjoy both relationships and take from them the lessons and memories that each offers, because they’re both helping to form you as a person and student.

Now that I look back, I understand that my Mom needed to teach me all of those things. If she hadn’t been strict about me cleaning up after myself who would have been? I get it and I love her all the more for it because she cared enough to want what was best for me. She shaped me in a very different way than my grandparents, and I appreciate both relationships now being able to look at them with hindsight.

So when a student comes to me after taking a fantastic workshop or two with a visiting teacher and they say: “So and So let me do this” my response is: “that’s great, next time you see them you can do that again, but right now, go make your bed.”