From Yoga Practice to Teaching Yoga
Inspiration for Teaching Yoga
It’s Monday morning again and I have always found receiving yoga and then teaching yoga at this time is a great way to start the week to check in with myself, from the inside - tune into the energy I wish to put out in the world, how I meet myself, others and life. And finally step off my yoga mat and into the world.
As I teach, I start with some words about yoga and what we’re doing, and why we’re doing this together in a Monday morning yoga class online. Yes, the physical benefits are obvious, the ‘doing’, the ‘direction’, and also the outcome. The intention of a yoga practice is not only a healthy mobile body but a ‘liberation of the mind’.
What happens when we place our attention on being in here, in ‘one’s own place’?
Whatever ‘posture’ or ‘key pose’ we are moving into with our bones, we are using this as a process to liberate ourselves from our head, our thinking, our intellect, our doing…Into our own place, what I would describe as ‘a tangible and energetic experience of being in our aliveness’.
From Practitioner to Yoga Teacher mode
It can often be difficult to practice without it becoming a way of formulating a lesson plan.
As I have been offering live-streamed classes, I have more time for my own practice, and as enter my yoga mat, I walk past my bookshelves dripping with all kinds of yoga knowledge, I pick one out and usually open a page at random (unless I’ve been called to a particular practice, story, teacher, yoga therapy training practice). I see what speaks to me…
And of course, it’s always just the right thing for NOW.
Fire Log pose
This morning, I picked ‘Chakra Yoga’ by Anodea Judith and opened the book to a page on ‘Agnistambhasana: Fire Log or Double Pigeon pose” – a cross legged position with the knees facing forwards as opposed to wider and outward, square so that the shins can sit like fire logs on top of each other in line with the knees. If you’re trying it now, I would advise going slowly, do one side and then the other and watch out for the ankles, keep the feet flexed and the shin over the knee.
Once you’ve arranged your logs, be aware of the sensation – even one side can be enough sensation to keep you intensely present! Try one side first and bring your hands wide and forwards to the ground…slowly.
You can follow your breath and the sensation to the edge ad allow the breath ‘to gently soften the tissues that are holding you back’.
As you gradually come away from the posture, notice the changes in your body as you move back to neutral.
On the physical level, you may feel length in the spine, strength in the lower back, hip flexibility – that’s the listed benefits of where this might take you and if you are dealing with hip injuries, low back pain, hamstring tightness, notice where you may adapt and play with yoga blocks and cushions for support. All you need is to get to a strong sensation whether that’s immediately obvious or takes some time to go deeper into the tissues.
And if you’re interested in the chakras, this pose is in the chapter on Svadihstana, which translates as ‘one’s own place’.
I use my own practice to focus on the sensation of the logs, and visualise my logs as I move from posture to posture, as I focus on being in ‘my own place’.
So now I’m ready to flow into teaching the class.
Inhabiting Your Own Place
And when we are approaching the fire log pose above, we are all starting from a unique body, and a different life, environment, situations – in your own place, how did you sleep, what’s happening in your life, what are you doing in your day, what do you need, how can you use this practice to serve you in any way you need?
We turn away from the external world and into the internal one, we focus on the body, our ‘Self’ as an object. We are both subject and object…we can use the experience to go beyond time and space…and object so that we merge into one, the subject and the object…and into the state of yoga. We breathe, sound, warm up, loosen the mind, engage energetically and physically and take some time at the end to rest in the ripple effect, in a bubble beyond time and space, a creative and spontaneous aliveness and acceptance of Self, a bubble of repair and healing. Hmm worth starting Monday morning this way…well it works for me, I’ve seen it work for my yoga students and health seekers, and it might work for you too.
Whatever you’re doing this week, I wish you feel liberated to be yourself.
Hope to see you on the mat soon
Judy Hirsh Sampath is founder of Yoga United Education and Course director of the Yoga United Yoga Therapy Training, 550hour accredited diploma.
Posture inspired by Chakra Yoga, Anodea Judith.
You can buy this book https://www.yogaunited.com/chakra-yoga-anodea-judith.html