As a little girl, I tried many things – drama, singing, acting… but none of these activities stuck. They didn’t resonate. Upon reflection, I know a primary reason for not furthering my singing career (I loved singing) was due to feeling disconnected from my teachers. As a somewhat insecure child who had big dreams but lacked the confidence to chase them, I needed a teacher who was nurturing, understanding and encouraging. Not to fall to the back of the class and feel like a number in the room.
Being the baby of eight children meant funds were tight, so unfortunately access for private tuition was not available to me. This meant I needed to train with whoever was available in the average classes. Whilst many of these classes were still excellent and I had some lovely teachers over the years, I never had the opportunity to really step up my learning. I needed to stick with the course curriculum.
Yoga was another area of my life where I felt I wasn’t progressing the way I would like to. Whilst I enjoyed my regular group classes for years, there was something missing. The teacher could only offer so much attention to me. I needed a space where I could work on my practice and have the support of my teacher to improve and grow.
You see – to develop a skill, takes patience, practice and commitment. I began to realise that yoga was no different to any other activity out there. For example, when you look at the best athletes, artists, musicians and yes, yoga practitioners in the world, there is one thing they all have in common. A teacher. An experienced practitioner who can guide the student along a path that encourages ongoing growth and development.
So when we translate this concept into that of a yoga practitioner, I often have people come to me and ask why they’re not progressing with their practice. Why the pain is still there, why the body remains rigid, why the stress levels remain high and (despite how egoistic this may sound), why they can’t perform the more advanced asanas after years of trying.
There are two very key reasons to explain the above:
1) A lack of consistency. More often than not people expect a weekly practice is sufficient. Whilst any practice is better than no practice, the truth is, the best results come from a consistent, regular practice. No Olympian has ever won a gold medal through sporadic practice.
So what does this look like in terms of days to practice yoga? 6 days a week, minimum 30 minutes a day. For the serious ones, and I don’t mean Olympians, just those who seek strong change, this is where it begins.
2) A lack of guidance. How many professional athletes, musicians, singers and so on have reached world record standards without the support of a teacher? Whilst I’m aware there are odd cases, generally speaking, everyone has a coach of some sort, a mentor if you will. These are the people who help to set goals, inspire the practitioner/student to push a little harder even when they (the student) feel like there is nothing more to give, who encourage the student to get up and try again every time he/she falls.
You see, there is nothing more powerful than the relationship between a teacher and student. The bond they share is unbreakable. The trust and belief they have for one another is so intimate and profoundly important that nothing could come between them. It is in this space, in this place of trust, that they will both excel. The teacher will be motivated and inspired to keep raising the bar whilst the student will continue to aim for it.
Whilst I appreciate not all people can have the opportunity to build this type of relationship via private tuition, in the yoga world, there is one very powerful way the same bond and learning can be achieved without the expense of such classes – and this is through a practice known as Mysore Style yoga. A traditional way of learning yoga, it is where practitioners learn the discipline of self-practice whilst having the support of their teacher to observe and progress the student as he/she is deemed ready. Since returning to Mysore and practicing in this way, it’s reminded me of how powerful this practice is. Through kind but also strict instruction, I’ve been reminded of areas where I have become lazy and forced to work harder. I’vealso been challenged to take my practice to the next level as I demonstrate the strength and body/mind awareness to do so. From here I now have more tools to implement into my regular practice back home before returning again next year.
I’m therefore excited and passionate about sharing Mysore Style yoga with my students, as I genuinely believe it is the best form of learning. That it is through this approach to yoga that practitioners can see the quickest results re freeing themselves of ailments and stress whilst also building strength and flexibility in their body and mind. It is the consistent and guided practice that allows the space for this growth to occur. And then what’s on the other side of this? Health. A feeling of connection with ourselves and others. Reduced stress… Life! People can start focusing on living again rather than healing. Why? Because the practice will make it so.
So if ever you’re feeling stagnant in your practice (whatever your practice could be- art, music, yoga…) look for opportunities to learn from others. Who can you seek out as a mentor, a teacher that you believe could take you to the next level? Take the time to find this person and invest in this training – because at the end of the day, this will be your biggest investment.
Sending huge hugs and love,