My first introduction to yoga was probably similar to many others living in the western world – at the local gym. At the time, I was struggling with anxiety and as a result, tried to keep myself as occupied as I could. And what does a young professional do on a week night? That’s right. It started with yoga, and as I became more and more obsessive with exercise, I attended almost every available class offered at that gym.
The three yoga classes I could fit into my schedule were what started me off. I was pleasantly surprised by how well I was doing, daydreaming of what it would be like as I became more familiar with yoga. Unfortunately, with it being a gym environment, it soon became apparent that the lack of regular faces resulted in repetitive sequences with almost no room for development. At that point, I got myself a mat and started practicing at home.
I didn’t use any tutorial videos, mostly I made it up as I went along, looking for sequence inspiration online, and finding ways to link postures together. Practicing at home also allowed me to create a suitable atmosphere. In a yoga studio, you are likely to have dimmed lights, soothing music, smell of incense and an air-con unit in the room. In the gym, it can be harder to concentrate, hearing the upbeat music from the main room, or startling sounds of weights being dropped on the floor above you. If the room isn’t ventilated properly, it can be too warm or too cold, and if the gap between sessions isn’t long enough, one may have to deal with a lingering smell of sweat.
At home, I could choose what suited me best – I could have an energetic session with the sun lighting the room, or a nice yin practice with the lights dimmed and a blanket to hand. I could choose to play music or practice in silence. I could stay in savasana for as long as I wanted to, without having to rush so that the next session could commence. At that point of my life, I also started working on my breath, and trying to be more mindful of my body and all that’s happening to it.
Occasionally I would book onto themed workshops at local studios, all of them contributing to my understanding of what I could achieve, and how yoga could help me – mentally, and physically. Even now, having taught yoga, and having been practicing it for several years, I look for workshops to expand my horizons, to better my skills.
It came as a surprise to me when I got offered a position of a yoga teacher – I didn’t have any prior experience teaching, and my personal practice wasn’t public. However, I had a lot of interest in both the physical benefits of yoga and its affect on mental health, its intention to give you an opportunity to learn to be mindful through movement.
My training had to happen while I was travelling through France and Spain, making time for practice every day, writing sequences and learning to give people cues while moving from one pose into another. Sometimes the practice took place on a beach, sometimes on a patio, other times it would be in the woods if I could find a flat surface, or on top of a boulder while my partner climbed nearby. I had to do a lot of my own research into the human body and into yoga as an ideology, as a movement, as a culture.
And now, I have to think about what I want to do next. What role do I want for yoga to play in my life? I feel strongly about keeping my personal practice alive, and I am still teaching public classes, as well as writing yoga-related content for blogs and yoga merchants. In the future, I am hoping to continue teaching, perhaps expanding my skills by learning to teach in another language, host retreats, run workshops and create resources containing functional applications of yoga (e.g. for climbing).
Love, Cat x