I’ve never been precious about the fact that not all students will resonate with me as a teacher. Some people will come to a class of mine and love it, feel connected and that they’re exactly where they need to be whilst others will feel completely out of sorts, uncomfortable and never want to set foot in another class with me again. From the perspective of a student – I get it. I’ve travelled near and far to find my teacher(s). I’m particular about who I practice with and I must feel connected with them and their philosophy toward the practice. Over the years, as I delved deeper into the practice I’ve come to understand that all teachers are different. We tend to expect that going into any yoga class should result in a sensation of complete bliss, connection and calm. Whilst this can be the case, should we not trust or feel connected with our teacher then the experience can be quite the opposite. One of frustration, worry and inadequacy. The reality is, the relationship between a teacher and student will never be egalitarian and so it is crucial we feel this positive connection to ensure we feel supported in our practice and safe to be vulnerable. For it is only when this has been achieved, that we can experience the true benefits of our practice, hence why I’m so particular and why I encourage others to be particular also.
If you’ve ever walked into an Ashtanga Shala/studio, you would know it can be a little intimidating at first. The discipline possessed by these students is admirable and I thrive on being surrounded by it. This morning I was introduced to one of the most wonderful Ashtanga teachers who too practices in Mysore. I connected with her immediately and felt right at home in her presence. Tick!
Her calm, soft demeanor makes her so approachable and yet there is a strictness that one would never question or disobey. I respond well to this type of teacher as it forces me to remain focused. There is no time for my mind to wander. I am here, in the moment and connecting with each and every breath. Considering I teach most 6.00am classes at the Jessica Dewar Yoga studio, I am restricted with my ability to train with other teachers. Recently I have been granted this freedom and since training under the guidance of an expert, my personal practice has been revitalized. As I maintain a self-practice at home 6 days a week, it can be difficult to progress without the guidance of another. It is also very challenging to maintain motivation to continue with a strong practice. And I know I’m not alone when it comes to motivation. Whilst I have my morning rituals, that I would never neglect, I’ve recognized that I’m becoming stagnant in my practice. That I’m not moving forward as I would like – and I know this is because I don’t have someone assessing how I move and helping me to push the boundaries.
Well – this morning those boundaries were pushed. Full body-to-body adjustments, forcing my hips open, my spine to lengthen and my breath to come under control – I came out of my practice feeling reinvigorated. Excited to learn the new boundaries I’ve just reached. I can only be with my new teacher once weekly, but I achieved more today that I have in the past two months since returning from India.
Many new students come to our studio with similar concerns around motivation and a lack of progression. As I maintain with each of them, I believe two things to be true:
Making time to come into a sacred space once a week, and really dedicate that time to themselves without other distractions is important for mental clarity, inspiration and learning.
Maintaining a personal practice where the principals learned in class are then applied at home is key to progression.
I do not believe anyone should feel tied to a Shala/studio, but rather know that our space is there to support students as they deepen their self-study and to reinvigorate their practice also – just as I know my teacher’s space will be there for me when I can be with her. At the end of the day, we are all human and sometimes motivation does dwindle. So make some time in your diary to step into a class and/or get on your mat, be present in the moment and just Be. There is only good that can come from this place.
Sending big, positive and invigorated hugs to you all,