Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Suburban Yogini re-emerges

Last night I taught my first class as a dedicated yoga teacher, free of the corporate world and no longer rushing from work to home to class.

I ate an early tea and got to the health centre with time to spare, time to sit and meditate for a few minutes, time to focus on my breath and my space so that by the time my students arrived I felt calm and the space in which we practice felt filled with positive energy.

It was a small class last night as some students are still away for the Easter break, but it was a good one. I felt that for once I was teaching from the heart, not just going through the motions, I had the time to prepare myself beforehand and therefore had the time to dedicate to my students during their practice, and that is, after all, what they pay me for.

Long may this continue.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rites of Spring

The first day of spring approaches (as does a forecast of snow as usual and the mad rush to bring the plants back indoors before they are killed by the inclemency -- but that's another story), and I find my mind turning to rites of spring, rites of passage, letting go of the old and drawing in the new.

Usually at this time of year I change my yoga practice. Through the winter I tend towards a gentle restorative practice, lots of seated and supine postures; but as the spring arrives and the energy starts to rise from the ground again I bring back sun saluations, strong standing sequences and more intense twists. It changes my perspectives on life for the new seasons, re-energising and renewing; as well as kick starting me from my sluggish, hibernatory winter coat.

This year is slightly different. I am still suffering in the back department and still under chiropractor's orders to keep it simple for a couple more weeks before bringing stronger more classical yoga postures into my practice again. So while my practice itself won't be changing, my attitude to it will.

The biggest change for me this spring, which really is starting all over again from a brand new bulb almost, is that tomorrow is my last day in my corporate job. After tomorrow I begin spring and my brand new life -- dedicated to teaching and studying yoga.

One of the most important things for me about this, which fits in nicely with the change in the seasons, is that I will be able to change the time of day at which I practice. I currently practice, be that classical yoga or my chiropractic exercises enhanced, before bed. I'm tired, eager for sleep, dozing during savasana. From Friday onwards I will no longer have to leave the house at the crack of dawn to get the train to work and will be able to practice in the morning when the energy is ringing and I have the whole day ahead of me.

So sing out for the start of spring and all the possibilities it brings!

Friday, March 14, 2008


Every night I ask my students to relax and let go; let go of all the activities and events of the day. To start to forget about what has happened, worry not about what might happen and instead focus on the present moment - trying not to think past the next breath; whether lying in savasana or holding a difficult pose.

And yet what if I ask myself these questions? On the rare occassions that I even find the time to ask myself these questions I hold the thought for a few seconds, but within a breath or two my mind is racing again - back to all the things I must do, all the things I could do better, all the things I need to achieve tonight, this week, this month.

Bit of a hypocrite really aren't I?!

So mindfulness - where to start. With self study to begin with; noticing behavioural patterns, noticing how I allocate my time; this latter I have done to the shocking realisation that all I really do is rush around from class to class from work to yoga. How yogic! I need to be honest with myself, face up to my own truths no matter how painful that is, because without seeing my own truth how can I possibly tell others how to look for theirs?

But mostly I need to let go of my fear of failure, my desperate need to achieve. It is no less than grasping, stealing, constantly wanting more. I need instead to access a state of abundance and flow by remaining in the present and enjoying the time that is available to me right now.

A tall order, but something for me to think about as my last week in my day job approaches. I need to change my attitude and experience of time and achievement and it is not until I practice this myself that I can truly teach my students to be in the present moment.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Working on my back

My yoga practice these last couple of weeks have involved a lot of work on my scoliosis. My last trip to the chiropractor left me with a raise in my shoe and a whole new exercise regime to work on strength in my neck and upper back as well as releasing tension in those same areas.

I was a bit despondent when I first came out. He just wanted me to stick to the exercise regime and try not to do any yoga asana for a while -- I guess the idea is that you try one thing at a time otherwise how do you know it's working? Still it's kind of hard to be told, as a yoga teacher, that your own practice should be put on hold for a while.

On the whole I'm incredibly lucky with my chiro as he is *very* yoga friendly and I refer some of my clients to him and vice versa (mainly because he knows I teach rehabilitative yoga). But it didn't stop it feeling somewhat sucky to hear this. However, I do trust him, so I decided to stick with it.

I'm about 10 days in now and I'm actually really noticing the difference. Amazingly so. The pain, whilst still there, has subsided about 40% which is the first time it's done that in over a year. The other thing this new set of exercises has made me realise is that pretty much anything can be yoga.

I've practiced the exercises in lieu of my daily yoga practice. I've started off with a few cat/cow stretches and a few gentle down dogs and taken it from there. I've worked each exercise into a pattern with my breath and finished with 10 minutes of savasana, a pranayama practice and a meditation.

All in I'm really happy with this practice for as long as I need it. The important thing about yoga is that it's about working with your body in whatever your body needs at that point. And this isn't always classical asana. In fact, the more I teach the more I notice that classical asana aren't the best thing for some people's bodies. The most important thing about yoga is right there in the name. "Yoke" or union. The union of breath and movement. The breath bringing the union between body and mind. Classical yoga asana are a way of achieving a comfortable seated position for mediation, so if that is the conclusion of the practice does it matter on the exact body movements we use to get there?

My chiropractic exercises have opened up a whole new enquiry into my practice and what I want from it, and whether I am getting that. And that's just great. Because yoga, to me, is a journey, one that may never have a specific destination but that changes daily with my own breath and my own body.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Going to class...or not...

I haven't been to a yoga class this year!

When I first began my teacher training the first thing that suffered was my own home practice. I went to classes two or three times a week, but what with the studying and the lesson planning and working full time I often found I had no time for self-practice and when I did, I never really got into it as I was always thinking about how I would teach each posture, each krama, each vinyasa.

Now things have changed. I'm fully qualified, teaching four nights a week and maintaining a gentle self-practice and meditation each evening. But I have no time to attend class. This disappoints me somewhat. Yoga is a lifelong journey, I may have the piece of paper that tells me I'm a teacher but in my eyes I am still a student, still learning off those more experienced than me, still desperately wanting to be inspired by my two teachers. Yet here I am again, writing of "enough"; not having enough time.

Evening classes are out due to my own teaching, and as I'm working full time for another two weeks so are daytime classes. Now yoga may be my passion, my chosen career path and my life but I really really don't much fancy a 9.30 Saturday morning class either! So for now I must reluctantly continue with my self-practice, knowing that "enough" (and that lovely Monday morning flow class) is just around the corner.

My inability to make it to class recently has also made me think about my own students. The ones who pay for class passes and then don't turn up again, the ones who don't come for weeks at a time. I don't know what is going on in their lives and I have no reason to know, it is their life and their privacy. But I mustn't let my ego get in my way and think they are not coming because of anything I've done wrong. I must allow them to live their lives how they see fit, knowing they will return to yoga when the time is right for them.

I have to say though, I'm really looking forward to being able to go back to class.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mixed emotions

I'm like a rollercoaster at the moment. Ups and downs with a few twists and turns in for good measure!

On paper I know what I'm doing and where I'm heading. I've taken on too much, more than I'm capable of, and the time has come to cut back. With the yoga teaching I no longer have the ability to work full time and with a long commute as well, so I am giving up. Easy. Simple. Notice handed in, last day in two weeks time.

But what I am also giving up is quite a hefty salary.

So whilst I'm elated to be giving up a job I really don't like anymore, I am also more than a little fearful about the whole bill paying thing. Himself is earning much more than he was, but it's still hard for me to learn to rely on other people for financial support. Even if it is done with love and faith.

I think I need to question my definitions of "enough". What is enough anyway? How much money is enough? How many yoga students are enough? We live in a society crippled by affluence and greed. It is difficult not to get caught up in the whirlwind. Over the last few years I have certainly cut back on huge amounts, sorted myself out financially, tried to stick to the basics. But I had still sold my soul to a corporate law firm. Now I have a chance to buy it back. But the price of a soul is high. To get what I want in terms of time, quality of life and living by my principles I have to pay the price of a high salary and re-learn the ability to always have enough.

Besides, if I approach my new venture with fear I will never be successful!

Something to meditate on nevertheless.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New Beginnings

This is the new blog to chronicle my major lifestyle change from highly stressed City Paralegal to yoga teacher. Time to slow down my life, panic less and breathe more. Time to teach, write, read and do a little legal work on the side to keep the wolf from the door.

As of 20 March 2008 my life is a mystery. Herewith the highs and lows, the surprises and unexpected events.