Life, yoga and other adventures

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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Are you willing and able to let go?

Are you ready to fly?
Book 1 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali introduces vairagyam, non-attachment: 'The consciousness of self-mastery in one who is free from craving for objects seen or heard about is non-attachment.' This doesn't mean being disinterested, but rather it is acceptance of the philosophy that any practice without non-attachment is bound to fail.

I have been thinking about this in the context of my weekly classes. Am I too attached to my teaching methods? Am I reluctant to try something different or frightened to change gear in case my students leave? Am I doing them a disservice? More importantly, am I encouraging them to become attached to their practice and making it hard for them to find stillness of mind?

On a practical level, should I switch the class around so that they can't lie in 'their' spot? We're all creatures of habit, but unless we release those things we do on automatic pilot, is anything ever going to change?

Sunday, 10 January 2016

We're all students

Source: kettering 50plus adventure club
Before I became a yoga teacher, I found it difficult to work on much of a home practice, but my Thursday evening class was sacrosanct. I rarely missed a week. Then I qualified. Now my home practice is daily, but I find it hard to get to a regular class. Certainly I go to plenty of IST days, but that's not the same thing at all.

That's why I'm grateful to teachers like Carrie who let me drop in and out of their classes. I don't often say that I'm a teacher when I attend as a participant (unless some asks the direct question), because I don't want to draw attention to myself. I don't want special treatment and I don't want people to watch me to see how I'm getting on. I like to sneak in at the back and do my thing.

I'm also lucky enough to have two regular students in my class, Angela and Claire, who are doing their teacher training at the moment. They pick my brains sometimes, which keeps me on my toes, but they are also a useful source of updated information and fresh perspectives on everything I thought I knew.

It doesn't matter how long you've been practising, there's always something to learn.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Why I haven't made any New Year resolutions

There is a school of thought that says you should start any challenge at the most difficult time - for example, go on a diet on a Friday so that you can get through the weekend when your resolve is strong. Wait until Monday, and by Saturday night you will be weak with desire for whatever your food fancy is. Other people say: no, do it when life is easy so you can get several successful days under your belt before you start to wobble.

I used to make resolutions when I was a child: be kinder to my little brother; do my homework on time; pick up my clothes off the floor before bedtime; then later it was the usual things like losing weight, getting fit, cutting down on the tea and biscuits. I never lasted much beyond February.

My yoga classes start again tomorrow after the Christmas break. I've already had quite a few enquiries from newbies wanting to join us, and I shall be glad to see them. However, I'm expecting that many of them will come for a few weeks and then something will stop them: they are too tired after work, the children need help with schoolwork, they forgot to eat at lunchtime and can't wait until after the class for their supper, or it's too cold to venture out. These are all valid excuses.

What works for me is to set weekly or sometimes even daily targets. It's easy to begin each morning by saying 'I shall go for a walk today' than to resolve to take a daily walk for a year. It's too much to ask, too big a target.

This week I shall be asking my students to consider a sankalpa, an intention just for that one class. This might be as simple as 'I shall open my heart and mind to what this session has to offer.' I shall be doing the same myself.