Recently I have found myself reminiscing about my life as a yoga teacher and how it began, (after decades in office jobs?)
By my reckoning, that was 16 years ago, but it could be more, I am not certain to be honest.
I had been a regular student in a yoga studio for some time when one day, out of the blue, the owners approached me with a prospect; would I consider becoming one of their teachers?
What a surprise that was, a momentous jolt. My self-talk went like this; I do not know how to be a yoga teacher, I am lacking in confidence, not only in my practice but in LIFE.
Despite these doubts, I took up the challenge, the owners became my mentors, and it wasn’t long before I began my formal training with my Ashtanga teacher from Byron Bay in New South Wales.
Little did I know, the learning had just begun.
Throughout my yoga journey, I’ve had some inspirational teachers. Each one offers something different and this is vital if we’re to experience a broad spectrum of the yoga teachings and styles. One in particular has served as my guru and teacher for several years (Thank you Stu).
With their guidance, I realised yoga teaching is not limited to asana, the physical postures.
For example, the ancient Indian sage Patanjali defines “eight limbs” in his Yoga Sutras, all connected like the branches of a tree.
The Yamas (ethical standards) and niyama’s (self-discipline), asana, pranayama, pratyahara (sensory withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi, or ecstasy.
When I began teaching, my focus was on asana alone, I had so much to learn.
In the early days I taught a strong vinyasa practice, complete with jumps, head stands, handstands, the whole vinyasa flow.
I led the 8am Saturday class at the studio and at the time ALL classes ran for 90 minutes. Phew!
I locked the door at 8am on the dot, as there was no room left for any latecomers anyway and the studio had space for 35 students.
People in those classes ranged in age from 18 to 45. Then, as now, teachers would ask women whether they were pregnant or menstruating to ensure their practice did not include inversions and other subtle movements.
As I have aged, so have the students who attend my classes.
These days, questions about menstruation and pregnancy are not in the mix. Now I am asking about hip replacements, pacemakers or any extreme sensitivity in the body or mind which may inhibit a full practice.
There are students in my classes now who I’ve taught for many years and possibly some who have been with me from the very beginning.
I have run at least 12 retreats, both overseas and in WA, and some of my students have attended them all.
I have watched some succumb to illness and death.
I am observing the full circle of life and give thanks for how fortunate I am to be living a life that provides this opportunity.
When we are young, we feel 6 foot 6 and bullet proof, the world is our oyster and we play, laugh, and enjoy each day without much reflection or care.
With middle age, we might be in a stable relationship or single, if partnerships do not pass the test of time or a loved one has passed.
The kids, if we have had them, may be all grown up or semi-grown.
We may have bought and sold several houses, or never had the opportunity to own one.
Through the years, whatever they may bring, we are but human beings doing the best we can with what is in our world on any given day
As I approach the 70th anniversary of my time on this earth, I say Wow! How quickly life goes by but what a journey, full of lessons.
And it is still a blast, even on the days when I throw my hands into the air in exasperation, questioning our political leaders both here and overseas.
To me, Trump’s antics were a soap opera that was always going to end very badly!
I get frustrated with the aches and pains in my once solid, muscular, and fluid body, but still, I give thanks to all of it.
The good times, the not-so-good times.
I sit, I meditate, I breathe, I laugh, I cry.
I linger longer, I love deeper, I give thanks and always say NAMASTE.