Remaining Inspired - Because We All Need A Little Encouragement

Jessica Dewar Yoga Lotus Posture Padmasana

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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,

Jessica xx

The things we do! I really must love yoga.

Part of being advanced practitioners and teachers means we need to learn all the major Kriyas (cleansing techniques) and experience them all too. As we all know, and cannot forget, last week was Shankaprakshalana (explosive cleansing of the entire digestive tract) and this weekend will be: Jala Neti, Sutra Neti and Vamana Dhouti. Translation: Water in my nose and out my mouth, catheter in my nose and out my mouth, 3+ litres of my favourite saline water and then vomiting it all up again (and everything else in my stomach). Excellent!

To be honest, I love all these little experiments with the body. Yes, none of it is glamorous, but the benefits experienced are just amazing. After last weekends effort, I’ve never felt healthier - until I returned to eating certain foods which I now know my body is not friends with. The power of Kriyas is so wonderful. The danger, however, is becoming addicted to the Kriyas. The feeling of being healthy and amazingly energised can be so addictive that people then complete Kriyas regularly without a need to. This is when the opposite effects can happen - turn from help to harm.

Yoga really is so beautifully holistic in its approach. People commonly forget that yoga is not only about asana practice. There is pranayama, kriyas, bandhas, mudras etc. And nothing about yoga is religious. It’s a science, another reason why I respect it so much. But bringing it back to this weekend, it’s certainly going to be yet another whole new experience, but a great one no doubt. I’m not sure how we will all look vomiting on the street, but we’ll see!

Moving onto a completely different topic now. I’m beginning to become very aware that my course is nearing it’s end, and although I cannot wait to get home, I feel so terribly sad about leaving. Whilst in class tonight chanting with Bharath’s wife, with eyes closed and chanting quietly with the group I found myself crying. It was near uncontrollable. From before sunrise until well after sunset I am in that Shala with my classmates and teacher. My little India family. And I have been inspired so much that the thought of not learning from Bharath each day is terribly upsetting. Again, a true yogi does not get attached, but the Jessica deep down tends to get very attached to things. (I’m working on it!). For Bharath, I will become a distant memory as many more students have the good fortune to train with him, but for me - Bharath will always be my Guru. I was inspired by this man before I even met him (in France when I was taught by one of his students, which is why I came to him), but now I cannot even describe what a fundamental impact he has had on me which will stay with me for the rest of my life. How do you thank someone for that? What do you say? Do you say anything? How do you say goodbye to that person?

Don’t get me wrong - this has been the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life. Ever. Emotionally, physically. You name it, it’s been tough. But maybe it’s because of the many hurdles I’ve been jumping over all this time which is making the process so much more enjoyable. Rewarding. Hence, why I feel so much gratitude for the opportunity to have learned from this wonderful man. I dunno - something to meditate on.

Ok, enough about that. I will definately chat with Bharath as some point about how I’m feeling. He always has something wise to say which helps me to centre myself. How lucky I am.

Namaste xx

Why not? If cows can, why not a pony!