The Shepherd and His…Camel? Or Cow?

…The one who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens the door for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. (John 10:1-4)

I am not the kind of person who loves memorizing lines from the movies much less Bible verses. No offense meant to our Christian brothers and sisters; it’s not just me.  Strangely though, during our led class tonight, this verse came to my mind.

And it came when I was trying to do an arm balance and a voice from nowhere suddenly started giving instructions. It was not YT; I know his voice. I was not also sure if the voice was talking to me. But it certainly was distracting. I could have done the pose better and held it longer…. Then another arm balance and there went the voice again. Oh, by the way, the led class was turned into mysore after navasana so I was supposed to take my sweet time to position myself, concentrate, and find my balance…and I just felt impatience from this voice from nowhere, giving me instructions when I was still trying to get into the pose. Far from helpful, really. I just tried to do what I was supposed to do…inhale, exhale…. Finally, in one of the poses, the owner of that voice tried pushing me and after a while, seemingly having given up on me, called YT to continue assisting me. And there was peace….

I know YT’s voice. Even without looking up at YT, I know when he is giving me, and not my neighbor, instructions. When he calls out my name even across a crowded shala I can hear him. Now whether I get what he is saying or not is another story.


YT: Push!

Me: Push? What do you mean “push”? (Duh?! How else would you like YT to define “push?”)


YT: No “T”.

Me: Er…what? (Hay naku!)

I guess in my attempt to empty my mind I often unconsciously just incapacitate it. 😀

Going back to that voice, later I found out that it belongs to another YT. You see, I need to have only one teacher at a time for a specific field or area of knowledge, lest I be more confused than enlightened. That explains why I am a poor driver and why I never progressed in tennis enough to make it a hobby—in driving schools and tennis clinics, whoever is available gets to teach you. The teacher-student relationship (if you may call it) in venues like these is, yes, impersonal. The one-on-one teaching is not really necessary although in my case it isn’t helpful either.

However, this is not the case in yoga. At the very least, the yoga student lets the teacher get into his/her personal space during adjustments—so how more personal can that get? That in itself requires trust…the student trusting that the teacher knows what s/he is doing, trusting that the teacher only has the student’s good in mind (and not the teacher’s ego). In some cases, this trust is brought to another level with the student even letting the teacher into his/her life, as in the traditional gurukula system. Or probably like the shepherd-sheep metaphor in the Bible.

There’s no sheep pose in yoga unfortunately (does anyone have any explanation for this?), but I think the nearest mammals to it in the yoga system in terms of physical attributes and nature are the camel and the cow.


source: yoga journal

source: yoga journal

source: yoga journal

source: yoga journal

They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him, because they do not recognize the stranger’s voice. (John 10:5)

 (Hmmm, I hope my next entry won’t be about the lost sheep/camel/cow, ha ha!) 


4 thoughts on “The Shepherd and His…Camel? Or Cow?

  1. Hi Chona!

    I think the best thing for assistant YTs to do is to learn as much as they can from senior teachers. While I appreciated the eagerness to adjust/bind me, assistant YT’s skills still fall short. At first I was willing to see how far I could go with that teacher but when I knew that my abilities weren’t up to the task, assitant YT should’ve recognised that too and instead suggest modifications and not insist on my doing the full pose. Just like you, I have my favorite teachers too but I am willing to test the newbies especially if they show some potential. Some have it, some don’t–you know what I mean 😉

  2. Hi Mel! Actually until now I am still processing why I reacted to that “assistant YT” the way I did when I was used to being adjusted by another YT (not the main YT) in another studio and didn’t mind at all…in fact I welcomed it and even volunteered to be her “guinea pig” in her adjustment techniques. Hmmm….

    Hi Avril! Sorry I have no idea but I’ll let you know as soon as there’s an official announcement na.

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