To recap: I thought the halftime show was amazing. Total nonsense, but so cool to look at it. Amazing back up dancers and Madonna looked like she was genuinely excited to be there and be performing. So, it was excellent to me.
Yesterday, my friend Kate and I were discussing yoga teachers. Specifically, what makes a good yoga teacher? When Kate asked me my thoughts on Bikram teachers, I was admittedly stumped. For vinyassa teachers, I actually have more thoughts. Some teachers put together amazing, amazing sequences that leave one part of my body feeling all tingly and crazy and great. Other teachers get a great rhythm going. One of my favorite teachers always manages to shake the order up and change things around. It's great!
But, isn't it almost harder to say what makes a good Bikram yoga teacher? For me, it's always about much more than The Heat. Some people obsess over teachers and The Heat. Admittedly, I used to obsess about It too. (Is this class Hot? Or just hot? Or HOT?) But then I realized, I've had amazing classes in crazy hot rooms and shitty classes in crazy hot rooms. I've had amazing classes in not so hot rooms and shitty classes in not so hot rooms.
Technically, all Bikram teachers teach the same sequence with the same words in the same conditions. I can't comment on how well one sequences a class based on the others because they'll always do the same sequence. But still, every teacher, every class, every room is different, no question about it. I didn't know how to articulate it well, though. How some teachers can create a quiet, but forceful class. How some almost flow the class together but others create a challenge through the stillness in between.
Then, just like a prayer (yes, I'm quoting Madonna. I'm gayer than laughter deal with it), in walked Johnny Salvatore and helped me answer all my questions.
I had read the name in all the teacher training blogs and all the stories. And I thought, "Ok, I have to take the class." It was packed, lots of students who had been at the studio for years and a ton of teachers. Really amazing environment. And to me, Johnny was like having Joan Rivers teach me yoga. If that sounds like an insult, IT IS NOT. It is the highest compliment I can give. He's a wonderful teacher, and I'm in love with him. I'm still on cloud 9.
Here's how he answered my question though: I've had a ton of good teachers. All different. But Johnny finally made me realize what I love and prize most: presence. Just staying in the room with us for 90 minutes. Most teachers do. People who teach yoga love to teach yoga, and I know that. Some people, though, are simply better at remaining present. It's what gives some actors that extra push or makes a dancer like Margot Fonteyn transcend bad feet. And, Johnny was present with every single person in that room of 63 for all 90 minutes. He was with us, and we were with him.
I don't usually get all spiritual and hoo hah-y, but it was beautiful. I didn't want to get up off my mat at the end. I felt totally whole and totally one with everyone around me.
I thank every teacher that's done that for me, but tonight was something special.