Words From Yogi Tom Lee: Ahimsa, Ahimsa, Ahimsa!
About a month ago, I hurt my neck pretty badly while teaching a class. I called out the pose "sundial", and looked around to see a lot of puzzled looks. So, I decided to demo the pose . . . without warming up.
The ironic thing is that just a day earlier I had been at dinner with three friends who are all yoga teachers. We probably had about 40 years of teaching experience between us. During that dinner, I remember telling my friends that teachers should never demo during a class — especially advanced poses.
Most teachers tend to demo on their "easy" side when in front of a class, which means that over time they start to misalign their bodies. Also, teachers aren't generally warmed up to demo the advanced poses that require demo-ing.
To hear the moral of the tale
Nevertheless, I found myself demo-ing sundial in class the next day. And sure enough, I hurt my neck. It was a serious enough injury that I had to have it x-rayed, was on two different medications, have been getting regular acupuncture, and was advised by my doctor to wear a neck brace. (Of course, I refused to do so because I would have looked like a clown, and I'm way too vain for that.)
I'm sure it's no coincidence that I hurt my neck the day after having this conversation with my friends. I didn't take my own advice.
I teach and preach about ahimsa (nonharming) during my class almost every time, but somehow I did not manage to follow my own advice.
The Buddhist in me says that everything happens for a reason, and this has been a huge and humbling lesson for me.