All posts by Mary Alpaugh

Learning to Let Go

Like many, I am back in school trying to meet the new HLC qualifications while pursuing a yoga certification. Although I am no spring chicken, there are always new things to learn if we stay open to the possibilities and let of of ego.

Last year, I signed up for an intermediate-level asana class. I had been doing hot yoga for five years prior to registering and thought that I would claim the coveted teacher’s pet award.  After all, I had ten years of youth on my classmates and am incredibly  fit. I have run marathons, competed in triathlons, and spent years on a swim team. On the first day, I showed up in my new Lululemon top that showed off my muscular pecs, and I was ready to downward dog with the best of them. I took a wide stance, threw my rear in the air, and put myself into the pose. As I was  mediating in the pose and relishing some inner glory, I heard the teacher yell across the room, “dear God, someone help that new student”.  Being the helper that I am, I pulled out of the pose and was ready to instruct the student with the poor posture.  To my surprise the misaligned student was me!

I spent the rest of the class, actually the rest of the semester, with an aide who properly adjusted me into EVERY single pose. After five grueling years of practice, I had strengthened nothing except my ability to do every pose incorrectly.  My first instinct was to withdraw, but my fierce sense of competitiveness with myself would not let me quit.  I  persisted, perspired, and complained for sixteen weeks. I did not experience one minute of enjoyment through the two-hour workout.

I am glad that I put my ego aside. I have since graduated to an independent practitioner and the yoga assistant has found a newbie to readjust.  Every once in a while, I hear the teacher grunt-good work, Mary.

Yoga really is about letting go. Through this experience, I have learned to let go of my pride and realign my expectations. I have learned that it is okay to need help. Had I held onto my ego, I would have never grown or pursued my passion.  I have four classes left before I graduate and can call myself a yoga teacher. Yippee.








Beyond My Threshold

As I reflect on the diverse population of exceptional students in my developmental English classroom, I realize that I am often overextended and struggle to differentiate instruction for the 100+ students enrolled in my courses. All of my students have varying degrees of aptitudes and unique experiences, yet each carry an individual learning blueprint.  It is difficult to remediate every skill deficiency because students come to school unprepared with varying backgrounds-sometimes ones that emotionally handicap them, others that limit them from reaching their full potential.

When I feel overwhelmed, I  try to step out of my comfort zone and reach out for support from our college community. In my own experience, when the student problems are beyond my own training, collaboration is an important component in helping students succeed. Students that are enrolled with the benefits of cohorts, armed with academic success strategies, and have the advantage of taking core courses with teachers who team together to move the student’s academic and affective skills forward.  A focus on the whole learner has better enabled me to make refined decisions about what is fundamental to a grasp of the subject and what is better left to the professional outside of my field. Through collaboration, I feel armed to be able to move students into an irreversible state of growth and ultimately to success.