Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Where everybody knows your name

"Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name..."
Cheers Theme Song Lyrics, Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo

My original yoga teacher training was a 19-week, 200-hour level program. Over the course of those weeks, I enjoyed building strong friendships with my 22 classmates. We saw each other every Thursday and Friday evening for 19 weeks, plus some weekends thrown in for good measure.

And we worked on projects together during those 19 weeks. We worked together, learned together, were vulnerable together, and every single one of us knew each other's names. Friendships were formed in that 19 weeks that I know will be with me for the rest of my life.

Now as I work my way through the 300-hour yoga therapy program I've noticed a lot of differences in the way my new classmates interact. For one thing, the yoga therapy program is an ongoing program. It is a rotating program - meaning there's not a stop or finish - you attend until you've made the full round of two-year's worth of once-a-month weekend workshops (in addition to completing many written assignments and yoga practices). Students complete the program and hence, discontinue attendance, and new people join each month.

While there are familiar faces from month-to-month, the evolving dynamics of the group makes it more challenging to really get to know everyone. After nine months in the program, I'd guess that I knew maybe 25% of the participants names, if even that. That's a low percentage for me. I like to know names.

Our teachers change from month-to-month and this past weekend we had the pleasure of learning from Heath Reed. Heath's level of enthusiasm for body work and yoga is so infectious. His motto, "Breathe. Move. Love." is heart warming and just downright awesome. His teaching style is FUN.

Heath did something during our workshop this past weekend that was so simple yet so profound! He had us play a fun game where we got to know each other's names! Seriously, after nine months with some of the same people (the group is about 30 members strong), I FINALLY know everyone's name! And they know mine! We had fun together as a group. We came together as a community. We spoke each other's names.

As a yoga student I have always appreciated when a teacher knows my name. It personalizes the relationship in such a sweet and simple way, touching the very essence of who I am. Deb. And as a yoga teacher, I do my best to use my student's names. I speak their names not on purpose - like not in a manipulative way - but because it means a lot to me to know their name and to address them that way. Speaking someone's name says they matter - it validates their very existence.

Many of my classmates this past weekend commented on how much they enjoyed the game we played that resulted in each of us getting to know everyone's name. Saying farewell at the end of the weekend felt so different this time - like the temporary parting of a community. We'll be back together next month and I know that the camaraderie will be different now that we are a more familiar group.

I feel so grateful for the gift of community that was fostered by a teacher that I am grateful for as well. What an awesome Universe this is.

You can learn more about the beautiful work Heath and his wife, Nicole, do by visiting their website and reading their blog. They have a YouTube channel with lots of really great and useful videos for stretching and healing, and a Facebook page as well. I highly recommend that you check them out!

Thanks for reading, [insert your name here]. It means so much to me.
~ Deb

PS: My next yoga/mandala workshop is coming up on October 10th. I'll say your name if you attend. ;o) You can find more information by clicking here.


debs14 said...

I need to learn that trick for remembering names - I am rubbish at remembering! I once spent a week on holiday calling someone Audrey when her name was something totally different. It's become a standing joke in the family, if you can't remember someone's name you call them Audrey!
You certainly are enjoying your yoga journey Deb, and I'm loving hearing about it. I'd love to join one of your classes one day - and you'd have no trouble remembering my name!

helena said...

hey Deb I know what you mean about the strength of community in a class when you all take the same journey together - good to hear you had a teacher inspired to create that community in your rolling class

Audrey said...

It's amazing the difference a great teacher can make ~ a strong sense of community will make the experience more meaningful for everybody involved.

Karen said...

Names are SO important! I'm awful at remembering names, but I work really hard at it, and try to make sure that everyone introduces themselves when I'm at a meeting. It's amazing how often we start a meeting without everyone knowing the people around the table!

Patio Postcards said...

They say that the sweetest sound to anyone is their name being said correctly. I admire that you are making each person's experience with you meaningful and starting off with their name. Thank you Deb.

alexa said...

Acknowledging the presence of others by their name honours them, doesn't it ... And really builds a feeling of connection. So glad you have such an inspiring teacher who seemed to sense what was needed.

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