A Forced Hush by Sheri Celentano
What I do is… all about that voice, ‘bout that voice, ‘bout that voice (yea, you might hear Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” in there). Seriously “speaking” though, the vocation of Yoga Teacher is 80 percent vocal. Your voice can fire people up when attempting challenging poses, romance people into opening their hearts, soothe people into holding forward bends, relax them into a practice of mediation, and finally into savanna (corpse pose).
Ok, mixed into this 80 percent, you have the words you choose to use and the knowledge you have from your own dedicated practice and years of study. Throw into that last 20 percent a great playlist, the ability to assist your students, a demo or two, and, well… you’re there – maybe!
So what happens when you travel halfway around the world to teach in five cities in ten days? Well, most often it goes pretty smoothly. Sometimes, you may get hit with some sort of German Super Cold and go down – I mean, VOICE GONE. You’re down… like, can’t speak, shivering in your bed-down; having to cancel two out of the nine workshops-down; we’re talking cranky, coughing, croaky, can’t sleep, misery, flu-and-cold-down.
So what happens then? What shows up? Fear. Shame. Ego. Regret. Loneliness. Embarrassment. Oh Kali MA!! Is the yoga teacher Human after all? Is the tough, independent Brooklyn girl going to have to ask for help? Is that part of the personality that never wants to disappoint, wants always to be liked and worried about money rearing its head? But oh, I thought all that had worked itself out through years of practice.
What happens… is a reminder that the roots of our demons and patterns remain hidden often, but they tend to flourish at certain, vulnerable times, and we learn that the outcome of a forced hush is a collection of reminders of love and self-care.
- Gratitude. There is a huge yoga community around the world. I was SO TAKEN CARE OF. It was like I was (and I was) with Familia. I was staying with friends and offered to take my sickness to a hotel to not upset the flow of the house (which includes a baby), and that idea was shot down immediately as ridiculous – they wanted to take care of me!
- Silence. Sometimes you just have to be quiet. The inability to talk made me find the quiet time I desperately needed and also helped me to LISTEN more – to the people around me and to my own needs. It was fun to have people tell me stories, knowing that I couldn’t really participate with words.
- Sleep. My god… I slept and slept. The busy city life doesn’t always allow me to just sleep when I need to. Be like a baby: eat, use bathroom, sleep. Repeat.
- Humility. You know, it’s easy to fall into the ego – even more so as a yoga teacher (possibly why so many of the greats have a fall from grace). Yea, it sucks that I came so far to teach, but is it the end of the world for anyone? I think not.
- Hot water. And, add honey, fresh ginger, lemon… lots of it.
Self-care is a HUGE part of the Ayurvedic system. I am not an expert like my soul sister Ayurveda Ali, who has a 50 Hour Weekends Ayurveda Program starting April 11, but I DO know that finding quiet time is a prescription that many of us need. And, as the practice of Ayurveda gives us so many preventative care tools, I think this is one I will hold on to: quiet time.
I realized as I took this space to not speak, that I speak A LOT – all the time, because that’s what you do when you teach, and I have been teaching one thing or another for 25 years now. WOW. This is also why being the student in class or dancing to talk is fantastic medicine as well. Using the Body Temple as language has always been a great form of expression.
At the end of this though, I can’t help but wonder if the forced silence was actually a very LOUD reminder for me to find that space of quiet in my life more regularly. The body has a great way of telling you what you need – if only we can listen.
Join Sheri and the Lotus Temple Dancers for Waves of Blues: An Evening of Dance and Live Music on March 13 and 14 at 8pm. A lot of Heart Soul and Rhythm went into the choreography and music for this show. It’s a must see!