It never ceases to surprise me at how students portray a yoga teacher like the image of perfection and he/she must have it all sorted! Right?.......SO wrong! I wish it was that easy.
I always tell my students it's not 'shelf-improvement'. We don't magically get fixed by following the path by becoming a yoga teacher! Then stack the book on the shelf, carry on with life and live happily ever after! It's 'self- improvement' and we're always growing and learning.
Most yoga teachers I've met are stark bonkers and on this path, yearning to heal themselves to live more peacefully and most importantly to help others.
The yoga mat is your sacred space, your playground for learning. In this arena we're all students and teachers. In fact as a teacher facilitating the class, I find my students are the best teachers as I learn the most from them. We're all equal and I do my best to channel the ancient teachings of yoga to my best ability.
Every week I have a theme and this week has been about 'ahimsa' meaning non-violence. Traditionally there are eight limbs to yoga which you integrate into every practice. What you learn on the mat are the tools which you apply off the mat into your everyday life, otherwise the class becomes a glorified workout if you practice without presence of awareness. The first two of the eight limbs are known as 'yamas' (meaning restraints) and 'niyamas' (meaning observances). The eight limbs represent a moral and ethical way of living as a yogi. Ahimsa is one of the first branches under the yamas. I always say it's restraining from your normal habitual behaviour and then observing yourself by not reacting. By becoming a witness to our reactions is very telling about how much we buy into our stories of our beliefs about ourselves. Ahimsa teaches us that non-violence towards ourselves is the fundamental key. What I mean by this is about being kind and more gentle with ourselves. This has such a huge impact about how others treat you back with the same kindness. Everything starts with 'us' and how our inner world has an impact of what manifests in our outer world and how we're perceived by others. It's like the macrocosm mirroring the microcosm.
Your practice is like a moving meditation, an offering. I invite all students (including myself) to dedicate the practice to someone one else who needs it more. This gives the practice a whole new meaning. It means we practice with compassion and devotion. It's a gesture of humility and selflessness.
These are the eight limbs of yoga:
Yama - Restraints
Niyama - Observances
Asana - Postures
Pranayama - Breath- control
Pratyahara - Withdrawal of all the sense
Dharana - Concentration
Dyhana - Meditation
Samadhi - Super conscious state
I like to share openly with transparency. Social media is mostly one-dimensional by just revealing our better selves or when we're doing something exciting and fun. It's ok to accept our shadow aspects and freely express it without shame, even own it like a trophy. It's an integral part of who we are like our intrinsic make-up as a human being. Ultimately the goal is to follow our blue print, to omit happiness, however we can only appreciate 'happy times' when we've allowed ourselves to feel the sadness.
It's ok to stop sometimes, relax without feeling guilty or beating ourselves up and to simply breath in 'let' and breath out 'go'..........
Ladan Soltani- 'A dedicated yogi and author of fabulous fitness at 40'