Why I Teach Yoga and Why Yoga Is for Everybody
This year I accidentally became a yoga teacher. I say accidentally as I had no desire of making this my work, and have always hated doing exercise. I barely remember doing any at school, I think they gave up on me after I produced a different note to explain why I couldn’t do it week after week. I never took up sport in my adult life either. Too competitive, too brash, too many opportunities for me to feel bad about myself.
I discovered something different with yoga, a space where I could work with my body and where I could concentrate on my own movement in community. I have been doing yoga on and off for about ten years, but I gravitated towards the lighter more meditative types. The ‘off’ periods could last up to a couple of years. At the times when I was regularly doing my yoga, I felt more comfortable in my skin, more courageous and more energetic. However that wasn’t enough to keep me going consistently, and sometimes a heavy work schedule or a random accident like being run over by a pick up truck stopped me.
Over the past couple of years something happened to me when I realised the importance of the connection between my body, mind and soul. I realised that every little trauma was being held in my body and that I could only go so far in myself if I didn’t release them. I realised that creating freedom in my body was creating freedom in my life. I realised that my productivity, creativity and stamina were all sharper when I was connected to my whole body and breath, and not just an over-thinking over-working heavy head.
I stumbled across an awesome yoga teacher when I was late for another class, Leila Sadeghee with whom I worked to free myself from the pain I had experienced everyday for nine years in my legs (from the afore mentioned truck incident). Literally a few months later I had transformed this pain into strength, and found a whole new world of experience.
I made yoga a central part of my life, practicing at least weekly and then moving to daily. I did my teacher training with incredible teachers Leila Sadeghee, Bridget Luff and Tara Judelle who all teach yoga that really fits in with the demands of our modern lifestyles and empowers us off the mat as well as on it. I got geekily into the anatomy of the body, the philosophy behind yoga and the power of each pose.
And so here it is, now I teach yoga because I want to provide a space where you can feel that freedom, where you can meet another part of yourself, where you can transform your fear into love, where you can connect to the strength and power inside of yourself.
Strangely yoga classes can be a place where somehow you feel judged, or judge yourself, where it seems that yoga is easy for everyone else. It can become a place where connecting with your body can become another way to beat yourself up. It’s not uncommon to feel judged by your teacher and fellow yogis.
I am not a yoga bunny teacher who casually slips my foot behind my head or bounces up into a freestanding handstand. I love yoga but I have had to work seriously hard for even the most basic of poses. What I can tell you is that each little breath in the right direction has opened up so much for me and been worth it. I understand the journey, and so my classes are a place to come and meet with wherever you are and deepen your flow breath by breath.
I honestly feel that yoga is for everyone, especially if you don’t feel strong or flexible. It’s a place to come and discover hidden depths to yourself you didn’t even know were there.
It doesn’t matter what age you are or how ‘fit’ or flexible you are. Everyone that shows up finds something that they are looking for (and normally something they didn’t expect). Whether it is freedom from pain, great sleep, emotional stability, deeper authenticity, strength, self-acceptance, fearlessness, or something else, yoga can help you create and live the life that you want.
So as we move into 2015, make it a resolution to try yoga, or give it another go.
I love this quote by the late B.K.S. Iyengar “Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”
Come and honour the journey of your own song.Photograph by Helen Abraham