Lessons from the Yogic Path
originally published in WellBeing magazine by Kate Duncan.
You listen to your yoga teacher, you wonder if they do silly things in life like you and maybe, one day, you want to become one. Here, five teachers share what they’ve learnt on their path.
Byron Bay, Australia
What insights have you gained while teaching yoga?
I’ve seen many practitioners (myself included) set unhealthy expectations of how their yoga practice should look and feel. Of course, we want to put in a sincere effort, but it seems to me that the harder we are on ourselves, the less benefit we derive. Rather, when we practise from compassion, our potential for transformation is limitless. We discover a gentle kind of strength that fosters our patience, allowing the practice to unfold in its own timeline. My hope is that this longevity we create in our practice sustains our yoga as the source of our healing, grounding, inspiration — or whatever reason it is that you practice — for many, many years.
What are some of your tips for aspiring yoga teachers?
Dive in. Listen to that voice within, the one speaking to you now, which says, “I want to teach yoga.” Find a quality 200-hour teacher training program and sign up. Throw away all of the reasons why you’re not ready and dive right in. Your practice doesn’t need to be advanced, beautiful or perfect. You don’t need to know everything before you start because the learning never stops. You’re not too old or too young — there will be students for you. Start teaching (even before you finish your 200 hours) to your friends and family, and, most importantly, be yourself.
What are your tips for overcoming emotions during or after class?
Yoga illuminates the habitual patterns in our lives. When we start doing the real work of paying attention, we’re bound to get emotional and feel things such as anger, shame, grief or sadness. Firstly, recognise the emotion, “Oh yeah, there’s anger again.” Then, be still and observe the emotion. To do this, you might skip a chaturanga or pass on the ice cream later that night. Notice if the emotion changes when you pay attention to it versus ignoring it. Often, mindfulness alone can help it dissipate. Also, never underestimate how good it feels to have a little cry in savasana (no one’s looking anyway).
How do you live yoga daily?
My daily yoga is to be the kindest human I can possibly be with my partner, family, friends, students, colleagues and my dog. To say, “I’m sorry,” when I’ve overreacted and truly listen to the other person’s point of view. To find positive things to say rather than complain. To take care of my health and contribute to taking care of the planet so that I can continue to enjoy this one precious life. To recognise that some days are hard and dark, but they lead us to the warmth and the light.
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