Posts Tagged 'teach now'

it’s only sort of about the biscuits

Today I needed to bake. I needed to make something with my hands, to watch the miraculous transformation happen when separate ingredients are combined together, to taste something warm, just out of the oven.

As I was gathering ingredients, I put on the Teach Now interview with teacher and poet, Jack Ridl. A funny man with an infectious laugh, he talked about how, even though we claim to be very process oriented, in this culture we are still very geared toward the product.

Sometimes the only access to reality is baking bread, or writing a poem… or where ever it is you go — there are things that only happen there.

Certain things can only happen with jazz, different things can only happen with poems, or walking in the woods.

What happens while you’re doing it?

What happens while you’re doing it is the important question. Not What do you get when you’re done.

Well, unless you’re talking about Coconut Biscuit Poppers.

Remember, I don’t do anything complicated in the kitchen. If it’s not easy, I don’t make it.

Enjoy the process, notice what happens while you’re in it. The bonus here is also enjoying the product :)

Coconut Biscuit Poppers

1 c Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix
1/2 c finely shredded unsweetened coconut
2 T sugar
1/2 t Clabber Girl or Rumford Baking Powder (gluten free)
2 T Smart Balance 50/50 Butter Blend Original
2 T milk, plus additional if needed

Pamela’s Baking Mix =

I’m sure another brand
would be fine too…

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine baking mix, coconut, sugar and baking powder in bowl.

3. Cut in butter (I use regular butter, and about 1 T more than called for) with a pastry blender (I just use my hands). Gently stir in just enough milk to form a dough that will hold together in a ball.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch and cut into 2 inch rounds. Sprinkle with additional coconut.

5. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool for 5 minutes. Recipe can be doubled (which is the only way I make it).


*Recipe from Raley’s magazine.

the *not* yoga class

Photo credit

A few months ago I went to a yoga studio in San Francisco for a workshop on the hips.

I had a dollop of hesitation signing up because the last time I went to this studio I came home with a rash and a headache. Too hot and too fast.

But this was with a different, well-known teacher and the workshop description led me to believe we would be doing very specific and thoughtful work in the hips.

the workshop begins

We started on our backs.

Yessssss. This is going to be awesome.

Some nicey-nice settling instruction, lots of quiet.

When we did start to move, it was with very slow, curious, swizzle-stick movements of the femur in the socket.

Ahh, just my speed.

The teacher talked about the potency of hip work, the importance of mindfulness, caring for the body, not pushing it, and working in a way and at a pace that spoke to us individually.

Wow, she is really speaking my language.

and then…


After two hours of non-stop salutations, all I could think was, I’m getting too old for this.

My personal preference for certain types of practice aside, here’s what bothered me about the class:

I felt like I was asked to take care of myself and asked to push it at the same time.

Even after the invitations to take care, I was singled out when I came into a low lunge instead of a high lunge. Verbal pose corrections came across with an arrogant tone (you should know this, why do I have to tell you again?). And the teacher seemed very aloof and distant.

I recognized this approach because I see pieces of it in myself sometimes: encouragement that borders on pushing; the belief that harder is better; self-importance as Teacher that creates separation from the group.


In his Teach Now interview, Parker Palmer speaks beautifully about congruence in teaching.

As a learner, he says, it’s all about our perception of the teacher. When we perceive that what we see on the outside does not match what is going on inside, obviously, it is incongruous. This is important because we are trying to gauge safety — will I be safe if I invest myself here? And learning from a teacher requires investing ourselves.

He goes on to talk about how if we sense that the teaching is a performance or act, or that the teacher is wearing a mask, red flags go up. We don’t know what we’re going to get, it’s unpredictable, it doesn’t feel safe. In response we withdraw and disengage.

Additionally, trust, respect, and likability plummet. This is starting to sound like a pretty unlikely environment for learning, huh?

My class experience in San Francisco lacked congruence. In my perception, the teacher sent conflicting messages.

Take care of yourself; you’re perfect as you are.

Push yourself; you can do better.

what I did learn

Creating an inclusive, welcoming space for all bodies to practice is my most essential purpose.

And admittedly, I have pretty strong opinions about what makes a good yoga teacher.

This workshop was a great reminder that how we show up, what we offer, and who we are need to mesh. We can call it being authentic, real, or honest. I really like the container of congruence.

the congruent teacher

I’ll be spying on myself in class and paying close attention to language. (I’ve been recording my classes so I can share some free full-length audio on my new website—coming soooon!)

Listening to yourself teach is humbling and so useful.

As is getting feedback from a colleague.

And being open to feedback from students (they are so not subtle sometimes!). You really went easy on us today; You killed us today; or Wow, that was just the right amount of nudge I needed to get past my fear (all feedback I have received).


How about you? Ever had an experience like this? How do you monitor your own congruence? Is there an area of your life that is lacking congruence?

Oh, aaaand, I was so disappointed with the hip workshop that I decided to do my own. I’ll be hosting a six-class series on the six ranges of motion of the hip. Check it out. Can’t come? We’ll have the audio only portion available for sale. Shhh, it’s a total secret — don’t tell! Or just tell me so I can get it you. :)

Feel your breath right here, friends. A moment of congruence!


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