Yoga: Keeping it real

In my journey setting up yoga classes in and around Somerset, I have had more than the odd panic attack. When I initially moved here, my plan was to have my classes paying for themselves and covering my costs of living within the first three months. Moving here from London, I hadn’t accounted for the fact that in Somerset, people take a great deal more time to consider something before acting on it, nor the much lower population and huge amount of competition. In Wiveliscombe where I live, the population is well over a thousand but there are already around 6 other yoga teachers living here. Competition is something we can all expect but I hadn’t quite realised what that meant.

As a result, my approach has had to change along with my attitude to what I do. Though my heart has always been with sharing my love of yoga as opposed to financing my living, I taught more than the odd class with my heart in my throat when only one or two people turned up as in the back of my mind fears climbed; “how am I going to pay my rent when I’ve been doing this for three months and still no one is turning up?” I also began to wonder whether I was doing the right thing. Keeping to my passion and what I believed to be my truth – simple, straightforward, ashtanga yoga, did not appear to be working as I hoped it would. Other yoga teachers had themes for their classes; threw in different poses and talk about ‘awakening the psoas’ or bringing out your warrior side. I however, don’t really believe in ‘fluffing’ yoga up in this way. Although I know the names for most of the muscles working in a pose, the average joe attending your yoga class does not, nor can one consciously ‘feel’ the psoas. Whether the warrior comes out in your practice or whether you connect with yourself more powerfully in the gentle, seated poses is down to the place ‘you’ are at in your own life journey and the spirit you bring to that day’s practice.

My role, I believe, is to ensure your alignment is safe, to help you explore poses yourself, to nudge you along in your self-discovery, to assist you in learning to trust your own body as your teacher and equip you with the basic tools in order for you to develop your own practice. During my training course, I remember clearly, a yoga sutra in which Patanjali spoke with another yogi who asked why it was that, even though each week, Patanjali taught the same sequence of poses and the same ideas, still, many students attended his classes and yet he, who attempted to offer something different each time, was struggling to fill his quota. He suggests that in being consistent, in being steady and stable, you are assisting students in reaching that state themselves, therefore projecting the energy needed to bring them to classes.

I have, through this process, had to trust that this is the case and as I find myself becoming more stable and steady in my teaching and less concerned with the number of people attending, I am able to receive better, the love from the students who do attend class and see the immensely positive impact it is having on their lives. It has brought me to realise that by sticking to my principles; by keeping yoga real; by living my truth, I am developing a loyal group of students who are going out into the world and passing on the love and light that we share in class in such hugely meaningful ways. At the same time, in letting go of my fears, more and more people have come forward to hold me in the most beautiful ways. I was approached by a friend of a friend to care for a young girl with cerebral palsy and this work allows me to finance my basic needs enabling me to let go and instead of seeing only the four faces who’ve managed to find the motivation to come to a class, I see the lights within them shining brighter and igniting the fires that rest within their close friends and family members, illuminating the lives of those around them.