24 May 2021
Last week’s class theme was about creating sacred space together, as we finally have the opportunity to practice yoga in groups as lockdown eases - and in the same room! It was certainly a lovely and most welcome return to in person classes for me as a teacher, it felt great to be sharing our group energy as we ease back into remembering a more familiar mode of practice.
Following on from that, this week’s theme is about appreciating probably the most important “prop” in our yoga practice: our body.
One of the upsides of lockdown for me during the Covid-19 pandemic has been having the opportunity to practice with my dear and very inspirational teacher Andrea. I originally attended her classes before I trained to be a yoga teacher, and her influence over the years has been key to me both achieving yoga teacher status, and going on to teach for over 14 years. Andrea moved away from where I used to attend her classes some years ago, and although I have continued to attend her workshops over the years, I was no longer able to take a weekly class with her. Fast forward to 2020, and hey presto, we were able to reunite on Zoom!
Each time Andrea has sent her students the email links for her Zoom classes, they have included a request to be responsible for our own body and practice during the class, because, as you probably know from your own Zoom yoga experiences, the teacher simply cannot get as good a view of students as if they were physically in the same room as her. The turn of phrase Andrea has applied to ensuring we practice mindfully in online class is wonderful: her students, we are requested to recognise that our body is our “sacred vehicle”, which we need to take care of and responsibility for, particularly in the online space.
As those of you who attend my classes are regularly reminded, the Yogis tell us that we are spiritual beings experiencing this particular lifetime in a physical body. And in our practice, it is this physical body which serves as our main tool to master perhaps the most difficult part of yoga: getting our focus out of our head and into pure physical awareness. And if we can achieve this, it makes the body a most sacred and precious vehicle indeed.
The Collins online dictionary gives several definitions of the word sacred, including this one:
“regarded with the respect of reverence accorded to holy things; venerated/hallowed”.
If you need any more convincing that your body really is a very precious thing, look to Ekhart Yoga, who offer the following: “Look after your body, or you’ll have nowhere to live.” Take heed!
Last week’s return to in person classes has given me the opportunity to start a new beginners class for those new to yoga. This is always an opportune time to help new joiners to understand and experience what yoga really is (i.e. more than tying yourself in knots and chanting om!), and the reasons why we are doing it, such as:
· Start where you are
· Yoga is not a competition
· Listen to your body
If we are to listen to our body, we have to learn how to get out of our heads (where most of us live most of the time) and into the present moment. Most of the work in the initial stages of our yoga practice requires us to learn to let go of the chatter of the mind. This can take a long time and bucketsful of dedication! But what we’re saying here is that Asana is the road and the body is the “sacred vehicle” which is taking us on our journey. A journey which could lead to reaching some very special destinations – such as happiness, peace, fulfilment. Who wouldn’t want to go there?