Getting back into practice

By Bridget Walsh on 20 September 2014 | Video: How do you know you're ready to teach yoga?

I've practiced yoga on and off for about five years now, and each time I come back I remember why I love it so much. Not only is there the physical satisfaction that comes from waking up the dormant muscles and niggly bits in your body, but when you completely reconnect with your mind, your body, your soul, your awareness, the world around you...well, it's a beautiful thing.

"May your study of the great science of Raja Yoga bring you a life of greater health and peace, joy and understanding!” (Sri Swami Satchidananda)

Well, who could say no to that?

Getting back to yoga for good

This time I’ve decided to come back to yoga for good. No more of this fair-weather yoga for me. I live a plant-based lifestyle (vegan/herbivore) so I’m already in touch with what goes into my body and where it came from. I’m also an environmentalist, so I try to be in touch with the consequences of my existence. I am a musician who loves to pass on gifts for others to enjoy, and an educator who takes pleasure in empowering others with knowledge. Now I’m a full fledged, undeniable yogi (in training), making the commitment to truly get in touch with what it means to be a part of our world and our existence.

With that commitment in mind, tightening up my proverbial yoga ‘screws’ from time to time is no longer enough for me. I’m going to equip myself with the skills, experience and awareness to pass on the gems of my journey to others, as a teacher of yoga. The beautiful Rebecca at YogaLondon has given me the opportunity to take on my Yoga Teacher Training in a 1 month intensive course starting on the 8th June and I’m now in preparation mode.

I am, for the most part, an advanced beginner. I’ve completed a ‘Beginners Course‘ and done various open courses, gym classes, workshops etc, so my Yoga London journey is my commitment to myself to continue to become the best yogi I can be.

One big factor for me is adapting and developing my yoga style. Up until now, the majority of my yoga practice has been based around the simplified and accessible Sivananda style of yoga. My practice hasn’t really extended beyond the foundation asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing), a posture-based rendition of the Sun Salutation, and of course the joyous experience of beginners’ meditation. YogaLondon is giving me the chance to extend myself (literally) into the realms of Ashtanga and Vinyasa as well, and while this is an amazing opportunity to broaden and deepen my practice, it does mean a lot of preparatory work for me in the lead up to the course, so I can attempt to be on par with the other students.

Yoga training's approaching soon

With just over one week to go before my course starts, my preparation now consists of: reading (course books), YouTube videos, attending as many local classes as I can before the class begins (with the lovely Elizabeth at London Fields Yoga), and of course preparing my body with daily stretches and practice as often as possible.

Skimming through “Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual” by David Swenson, I must admit I’m a little daunted by the task ahead of me. There are simply so many asanas and variations for me to work on while developing my physical practice, or Hatha yoga. Thankfully, “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” (with translation and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda) reminds me that although I may have plenty of work to do in the physicality of yoga (and always will, such is the nature of yoga), I am already safely on the path of other dimensions like Raja Yoga, the ancient science of the mind.

Patanjali’s sutras have been in circulation in one form another since as far back as 5000 BC. Patanjali is not considered to have invented Raja Yoga, but instead to have compiled the ideas and practices, and presented them systematically as sutras. A sutra is like a thread, a starting point for development, “the barest thread of meaning” as Satchidananda says.

As a student and as a teacher, I already have some of my own ‘beads’ of meaning and values to contribute to each sutra or thread, so this next part of my yoga journey, as well as improving my physical hatha practice, will also develop my appreciation and understanding of the sutras.

“It’s ultimate aim is to bring about a thorough metamorphosis of the individual who practices it sincerely”. (Satchidananda)

And I’m hoping to become one of those individuals.