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Shannon Brady

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I hate to ask

handstand assist 1

I do. Asking anything, of anybody, typically makes me squirm. As though I should have known. Navigating shelves of makeup brushes, shadows and glosses at an Ulta Beauty shop recently reminded me of this. As I stood frozen contemplating myriad varieties of foundation makeup, a chirpy saleswoman zeroed in on the invisible question mark forming on my head. “Can I help you?” Nope. Just looking thanks. Fortunately, she lingered long enough for me to catch myself in action. Realizing that if I don’t ask, I’ll never know. Never grow. And stay right where I am. Frozen in time, stuck in frustration. Patchy-complexioned and peeved. I needed to know, dammit.

And because I asked, I left 45 minutes later with more knowledge than I could possibly need on primer (huh?) “It sets the foundation beautifully to last all day!”; application (my fingers won’t work?) “this magic sponge tip will glide it on evenly!”; finishing powder (you sure I won’t look like Phyllis Diller?) “micro crystals will eliminate the cake-iness, I promise!”

If it’s starting to sound a little shallow, allow me to dive deeper. By recognizing my apprehension to ask, and doing it anyway, I’ve discovered the following:

Find another way to cue it Shannon, until you can see a shift in my pose”

My progress toward becoming a great teacher depends on my willingness to ask my teachers for feedback. If my cue didn’t land, why? What’s missing? Trial and error. More errors, more trials, more knowledge, more passion for teaching, more compassion for myself in the continuous learning process.

Can you dim the lights for her please?” 

A complete stranger turned angel stayed with me in the emergency room after I asked her to. I didn’t want to ask, as she found me in a mangled heap of blood, rubble and bicycle gears after an 80 mile solo ride, and spent enough time already getting me to the hospital. But I needed her to stay with me, shivering in the fluorescent-lit empty room, and she didn’t hesitate. Asking her restored my faith in the inherent love and support of most of those around us. Not everyone wants to help, but I think most people do when life puts them into such circumstances.

How do you tighten a dog collar?

My inner idiot wanted to know. When I first began volunteering at Main Line Animal Rescue, I discovered tightening a martingale collar was anything but self-explanatory. But not asking would have meant never getting to work with the amazing dogs and volunteers at a rescue that taught me how to be a better human being. In my experience, I’ve learned that ‘dumb’ questions are usually ones that we all want answered but no one is bold enough to ask. And that’s just dumb.

Can I ask you a dumb question?”

And there is NO greater gift than getting asked a ‘dumb’ question by a student. Because none of them are dumb. And explaining the mechanics of a proper chatturanga or how to modify a side plank pose gives them knowledge, and me satisfaction in sharing the answers I once asked.

So please, friends and yogis, DO ask.




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