Often i´m asked about where i stand when it comes to defining “my style of yoga”.
It´s a question i stumble on and i have a lot of thoughts about. Approaching this enquiry frequently throws up a number of different angles so i have to try to offer a response that is clear and somewhat articulate. Not sure if that´s worked well so far, so here we are, an attempt at “philosophising” my thoughts “on the yoga thing”.
On: Lineage a thorn and a rose depending on who you talk to
Although i think lineage is beautiful and honouring our teachers in all their forms is important and at the very least, respectful, i don´t subscribe to a guru mentality. Or projecting this kind of dogma onto others. I think we are our own best teachers, for we are the ones on this unique journey. Just my feeling, and does´t mean it´s not for others. When i´m teaching, i´m also learning and i hope to never stop learning. It is this relationship in classes that i find so wonderful, curious and constantly interesting. We are not the same physically, physiologically, emotionally or spiritually, and we can have completely different experiences and perspectives and this is a wonderful thing. I´m all about celebrating that diversity.
I have been lucky enough to explore and receive training and experience in a number of “styles” of yoga. I guess these all fall under the broad umbrella of “Hatha yoga”, for Hatha encompasses most “styles” that involve the breath and movement. To name a few denominations that are part of my lineage for the sake of this piece, i would mention Ashanga Vinyasa, Vinyasa Flow, Moksha, Bikram, Jivamukti, Iyengar, Yin, Restorative, “Pregnancy” and “Chair”.
Citing just some of my teachers would include Allie Hill, Toni Roberts, Chris Swain, Stuart Gilchrist, Jason Crandell, Meghan Currie, Elena Brower and Peter Blackaby. There are many more and they might not be necessarily labelled as “yoga teachers”, e.g. Family, Friends, Strangers, Animals. And this isn´t exclusive to something that is within the parameters of a “yoga landscape”, it could be an experience, a piece of art or music, an overheard conversation, perhaps even the flipping weather. Anything. And for me this makes the journey even more interesting and rich.
I took a foundation 200hr qualification which was my first official teacher training with a local studio that i had been attending for some years. From this wonderful starting block i´ve continued to take trainings and workshops that resonated with me along the path. I chose most of those trainings, although some were enforced, but all were useful. There has been no method that hasn´t offered me something valuable and i think it´s important to say this in an environment that might imply we should “choose”. The only thing we should “choose” is what we implement into our lives that serves us in the best way. This yoga path in my humble experience is one that has changed over time. Not just in terms of age, but also in relation to all sorts of things, let´s call that life. And i´m all about allowing that, respecting it and staying curious and open to it.
On: My approach
I have had so many “ah-ha” moments these last couple of weeks that are completely reframing my approach towards yoga practice as a student and a teacher. I´m grateful to the teachers (official and unofficial) and path that has lead me to this point. I have to say that i´m finding more and more that an intuitive, intelligent and non dogmatic kind of approach is definitely “pinging my pants” (sorry for using that phrase but it´s the only one that nails the feeling). My practice sways to a more somatic adventure on the mat. Scaravelli yoga is a style i´m really enjoying, some of you are aware. And i feel so very privileged to be attending numerous workshops and classes in these weeks with teachers that are supporting this exploration and quenching my thirst for this more intuitive or “intelligent” journey with yoga.
Yoga for me is about curiously exploring my experience. Looking at how this crafty minx of a body is so intrinsically and cleverly interconnected. To everything. Body, breath, emotion, tension, external elements. It blows my tiny mind.
I am interested in movement. Anatomy. Healing. Energy. Identifying our patterns (patterns of behaviour, tension, holding, feeling, breath). Replacing old unwanted patterns with healthier ones. Learning how to release tension and stress. And finding methods to connect to ourselves in ways we might have forgotten, hopefully having a really nice time in the process. Over time, one hopes we have the opportunity and privilege to begin to observe what is where. Why things are and feel a certain way. Stiffness. That injury. Perhaps it´s on a more subtle level that cannot be isolated. Or an emotional trigger roused from an old trauma we forgot was there. Actually, we begin to allow ourselves to feel in the first place, something which is so often cancelled out from our “put a brave face on things” culture. Anyway, i digress…
I don´t subscribe to the idea there is only one way to practice a particular asana or yoga pose. What i´m interested in is the journey towards that place.
I don´t believe there is one prescribed and “correct” way of practicing yoga or meditation or “enlightenment”. I feel we can benefit from all kinds of styles and methods and it´s down to one´s personal preference and what resonates.
But in summary, actually, when it comes to the crunch, it´s really about our own experience, our thoughts, feelings and processes, whether we be in a class environment, having a home practice, or out in the world amidst our business.
You are the teacher and we are all teachers.
Here´s to this never ending journey of learning for all of us.