My love affair with yoga began 15 years. You'd think I'd know all there is to know about yoga by now, but I am constantly amazed at how the practice keeps unfolding and revealing a little more, both to me and of me! Over the past few months I have been journeying along the 'yoga teacher training' path with a group of incredible women, all studying for different reasons. I have no doubt that the experience of learning about yoga has been transformational for them - there's no way that it can't be when you are learning so much about such a wonderful subject! But I have been surprised at how much I've discovered personally through teaching this course; about the depths of yoga and all it offers and about myself as a teacher, a student, a person.
Yoga is so many things to so many people. The word 'yoga' is commonly described as 'yoke' or 'union'. It's about connecting our mind, breath and body; ourselves to the world around us, to the life-force that flows within and without. Yoga is about finding balance through that connection, calming the 'fluctuations of the mind'. And yoga is about transformation, as we move along the path of Ashtanga towards 'samadhi' or enlightenment.
As I teach, I learn more and more about the roots of yoga, the heart of the practice and the essence that goes far beyond the physical postures. And I learn about myself. I have gained a far deeper awareness of how I feel in my own body. As I start to listen to my body I can hear when it isn't happy and I try to make changes to overcome this.
So what are the main things that teaching yoga has taught me? To watch and observe, notice the tightening of someone's brow and the clenching of their jaw, and encourage them to move a little more gently. To notice when a new student appears nervously at the door and always offer a smile! And to know that when I'm having a day that's not so great, if I smile this is reflected back to me too. To not be greedy. One of the yamas (like a moral code) in yoga is Aparigraha, non-greed, and this comes up both when watching my students grasping for an asana and as I develop my teaching business. Teaching yoga is my job, but how much do I need to earn? How much work do I need to do? This is so different for everyone but it has been something I've reflected on a lot recently when discussing the 'business' side of teaching with my students.
But the biggest lesson Yoga has taught me is to be accepting. As I teach my trainees about the stretch response I am reminded that when we try to force the body beyond it's natural range of motion it tightens up. But when we accept, breathe and let go of expectations our body starts to slowly unfold like the petals of a flower.
Acceptance does not mean we just sit back and let life happen to us. Yoga also reminds me that if we focus on our goal and practice, practice, practice, all is coming. But as the saying also goes, 'grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference'. The more we can accept, the more content we become, the less our monkey mind disturbs us and perhaps the closer we get to Samadhi. This is a life-long learning for me.
If, like me, the practice of yoga is something that enriches your life why not embrace this and join us on our next 200 hour yoga teacher training course in Sussex this Autumn?! Our down to earth approach helps you to fit the course around your work, life and family - we know how tricky this is! Find out more here or drop us a message here
***I have been writing this blog post all week, but my days are no longer my own and I have been trying to steal a few minutes in between the totally consuming task of raising a willful almost 8 month old. THIS is the greatest lesson in acceptance I am learning so far, but that's for another post!***