Last Saturday morning I found myself in a room full of my Baptiste brothers and sisters at the beginning of a two day immersion: Advanced Art of Assisting (AAOA). After a sweaty practice led by studio owner Gregor and senior Baptiste teacher Brandon, we sat together as sweaty yogis and were asked to tell them why it was we came to AAOA. A brave woman stood up and told Brandon that she was here to gain knowledge and learn deeper assists. After a pause that lasted five seconds too long, Brandon replied,
"Knowledge? You're here for knowledge? Well, you're not gonna get knowledge."
(Imagine everything he says in the thickest Massachusetts accent you've ever heard.) Followed by even more ambiguity,
"But you will get what you came here for."
Rather than picking apart his jarring statement or trying to define my deep and thoughtful desire for coming to AAOA, I decided I'd trust in his words and see what opened up for me. By the end of day one I had my very first Baptiste inspired revelation (that I hope is the start of many more)! Throughout that Saturday we were each partnered with someone new for every assist. As my partners continued to change, I began to realize I was a different assistant with each person: when someone met me with nerves and hesitation I was confident and ready to teach, but when someone came to me with that same confidence I immediately regressed to a place within myself filled with nerves and hesitation. By the end of that night, when asked what was holding us back from being fully present, I realized—I have been (in the past because I am letting it go right here in the present) easily intimidated. Suddenly my eyes burst opened and I realized that was not only a fact of my assisting but a fact of my entire life. (Who knew?!)
I believe that it was in that moment that I became an "advanced" assistant; it was in that moment that I realized what Brandon meant about not gaining knowledge. I had already known all of this. Everything I had come to AAOA for, everything I wanted to learn, was not something that could be taught to me. I discovered strengths in me that already existed—it was just a matter of removing the rocks in order to uncover them. I walked into day two not worrying about what I already knew about yoga or anatomy or alignment; not concerning myself about the knowledge of the person I was assisting; but instead, I placed my hands (hands filled with love and support) on the body that was put in front of me and gave was needed.
At the end of our time together, Jason (a new and inspiring Baptiste friend of mine) stood up and spoke the most powerful words I had heard all weekend,
"You don't have to give a deep assist to touch someone deeply."
And with that we became advanced assistants.
BLOG By NOELLE MARTIN