I truly love teaching yoga. It is a blessing. It is such an honor to get to be part of people´s lives on this journey that yoga is. Every class I teach leaves me with a deep feeling of gratitude for yoga and the people that share it. It is a bit difficult to put words to the feeling that teaching yoga gives me actually, but if I try I might say it is a profound feeling of being in the right place in my life, right here, right now.
I started practicing yoga when I was about 17 when I was on my way to become a professional watersport athlete (what?!?! how fast almost 20 years have flown by!). Yoga almost immediately became a balancing practice for me, a time and a way to balance out the somewhat aggressive, or at least very competitive, adrenalin-seeking parts of me. For me, yoga has never been competitive. I think I needed the balance, as the sports I was doing all day were fast, "extreme," and rough, and yoga offered me softness and stillness. Yoga never was "extreme" for me in a physical sense. I never had a goal of becoming super flexible in yoga, there was never the drive or desire in my yoga practice to achieve a certain asana or to feel like I "succeeded" in the physical practice of asana. Yet, yoga was an "extreme" practice for me, offering a whole new way of experiencing life. Yoga gives me extreme peace, a feeling of connectedness with nature and all beings, a new sense of calm, quietude and happiness.
For many years I practiced at home (a little worried that if I went to yoga class too much my competitiveness would kick in... Yoga was my refuge where I never wanted to tap into any competitiveness). In 2007 I became a yoga teacher and ever since, teaching yoga has been an important part of my life. I love sharing yoga. I love teaching and I love going to other teachers' classes. I love how yoga teaches itself, and I just convey simple parts of yoga as the teacher, but mostly just need to let yoga speak for itself. In class, I often talk about this as "the magic of yoga": how yoga itself—the practice, the philosophy— teaches us as we go. It's as if the right lessons come at the right time, and I believe this ancient philosophy and practice works so organically within us that as we move inward and come to understand ourselves better, the yogic "system" helps us release tension and mind patterns that don't serve us, and reveals the beauty, the love and happiness that exists within us (and in all beings). I love the journey, this path of yoga, and how yoga itself adapts to our needs in any given moments as long as we are open to it.
I have never left a yoga class (either as a teacher or student) feeling anything but bliss and peace. My husband sometimes laughs when he sees me come home starry eyed after class. Certainly this practice can be challenging and bring up emotional baggage that is uncomfortable, and sometimes I cry in class, but the releasing of emo-baggage is a good thing and a natural part of the process. It's not as if yoga is always easy, but it certainly is rewarding.
This morning I taught a class which had really nice energy. Someone had used the same room to teach yesterday and had left candles all along the walls, so I lit them all, and the room was serene and nice. We went through some sun salutations and focussed on balance asanas. One of the students asked if I could post the text I read out loud, so here it is (this is a sort of paraphrase from somewhere but I am not quite sure from where as this was in some old notes I had in my collection of notes that I use in class to bring up various themes):
"When we practice balance in yoga, we move gracefully towards balance in our lives. We learn how to fail without losing faith in ourselves. By practicing balance we become comfortable with the idea of falling, so that when we are off balance, we don´t wait until we fall hard, but rather take action ( move gently out of the pose) before we fall. If we fall or come out of the pose, we take a deep breath, remove ourselves from the situation, refocus and come back with renewed calm. We watch our minds and catch it before it starts judging and being self-critical, and learn to truly appreciate that we are healthy, alive, doing as good as we can, and that this is perfect."
If you want to try out a similar sequence to the class I taught today:
3 Surya Namaskar A (for the first two take some extra breaths in Plank pose to make sure you are set up correctly, and add 3 x Bhujangasana, on the last one you can roll up to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
3 Surya Namaskara B (going through the first one slowly with extra breaths in Utkatasana, Plank or Chaturanga Dandasana and Virabhadrasana I)
Closed eyes balance, lifting one foot off floor.
Vinyasa with closed eyes.
Balance in Adho Mukha Svanasana (lifting opposite leg and arm)
Vinyasa with closed eyes
Ardha Utkatasana (with option of going forward with hands to floor or arm balance)
Vinyasa with closed eyes
Virabhadrasana III variation (arms behind like wings, chest slightly up to get the feeling of flying)
Prasarita padottanasana variation (arms forward to stretch shoulders)
Thigh stretch on floor ("supine ardha utkatasana" or "pigeon")
Legs and arms up in air, circles with wrists and ankles
"Freestyle 5 minutes" (time to do whatever you want or feel like you need)