Is Yoga Really a Universal Language?

image
As wonderful as it is, teaching abroad has it’s challenges … you rarely teach the same person for more than a few classes, people are invariably late as they’re in holiday mode, they sometimes turn up a bit squiffy after one to many lunchtime beers (I’ve had one student turn up high on mushrooms!) and you get people coming to class in teeny bikinis (yes, really).

But by far the most challenging is teaching to people who have limited English language.

Ok, I know some of you are thinking “but what about the ‘universal language of yoga’ that has the power to transcend dialects and language barriers?”. Yup, for experienced practitioners, fair do’s but for the beginners in the room it’s more like a universal panic of “I haven’t got a frickin’ clue what she’s banging on about, how the hell am I meant to follow this!”

I’ll openly admit to using pretty flamboyant language in classes. I’m trying to take people on a journey so I like to use imagery and provoke imagination. I also teach to music as I feel it helps people to move more freely and explore their capacity for movement. And while I would love to teach all my classes with bells and whistles, sometimes we need to honour our students and simplify things. For me that means leading some classes with … wait for it … NO MUSIC!! Using simple instructions and speaking slooooooowwwwwwly (my friends will appreciate how hard this is for me!)

But this isn’t a skill only international teachers need to master. How many times have you heard a teacher instructing beginners to “load ujaii breath” without a demo or explanation? Fine if they’re regulars and have been taught ujaii, but I had to laugh when I heard one student having a post-class discussion with another student about his ‘faginii breath’ … sounds like ….. πŸ™Š!!

So this week my challenge is to simplify, to slow down, to nurture my students and to teach with empathy. Namaste #yoga #yogaeverydamnday #yogalove #yogagirl #yogaeverywhere #yogaeveryday #yogalife #yogapose #yogainspiration #yogapractice #yogagram #yogadaily #lombok #travellingyogi #travellingyogijenn

Live Your Truth

image Starting at a new studio is always a really interesting experience for me … explaining why I need a plug point for my speakers, and no, I don’t need the Tibetan singing bowls or the yoga straps thank you πŸ™‚

Going through this process with a new studio always makes me reflect on why I teach the way I do.

When I first started this journey I really struggled with my identity as a teacher. I stuck to the sequence I was taught in my training, working very classically with yoga postures, I definitely didn’t teach to music and yes … I had a ‘yoga voice’ … you know the one I mean, like a children’s primary school counsellor in slow mo πŸ˜‰

I realised I wasn’t connecting with my teaching. Don’t get me wrong, I loved giving class, I just didn’t experience that profound feeling of joy that I heard my other yoga teacher friends talking about. I wasn’t being ‘me’.

So I started experimenting with music … yoga-friendly stuff to begin with and my practice began to unfold … I began to explore, to create, to dance, to let go and really get into my body. I started to teach with humour and lightheartedness … I started to teach to Snoop Dog.

It’s taken me a long time to be ok with the way I teach though … for a long time I thought, ‘this feels great, but it’s not yoga’. I realise now that all life is yoga. You don’t have to do chaturanga to develop that deep awareness of yourself. Sometimes you just need to let the beautiful animal of your body move freely, use your breath to guide you, and trust yourself to guide yourself.

Be authentic in all you do. You’re not on this earth to be liked, you’re here to live your truth. I’m a self confessed ‘people pleaser’ but I’ve come to realise I can only share what I know, with sincerity and love.

I’ll continue to look forward to that weekly traditional hatha class I love, because the teacher teaches from the heart… and in the meantime I’ll be putting the finishing touches to a new yoga dubstep playlist for my inversions class.

Happy Tuesday gorgeous beings

http://www.facebook.com/travellingyogijenn

Instagram the_travelling_yogi

No Fear

image

Ok so we’ve established the importance of play both on and off the mat to create a fun and joyful practice. If that wasn’t enough to coax out your inner child … I’m hoping this post will have you playing hopscotch with your neighbours kids πŸ˜‰

We all know children seem to have no fear right? They throw themselves wholeheartedly into activities with little thought of the consequences. Case in point … have you ever seen a child practicing handstands on the beach or in the park? They try, they fall, they cry and go running to Mommy, but after a quick cuddle, they’re back out practicing within minutes, having seemingly forgotten they ever messed up.

I don’t believe children are like this because they have a lack of fear of hurting themselves, it’s because of their lack of inhibitions. They really don’t give two shits if they fall over and look silly … How many adults can truly say the same?

We are so concerned with what other people think of us, so frightened of not getting it right, that we sabotage ourselves.

In my classes I encourage my students to learn as children learn. Turn up … Try … Fall … Laugh … Repeat. That’s yoga!!!

As you can see from this video, my handstands are still a work in progress. I do my best and it’s perfectly enough that I just show up for myself every day and embrace the challenge.

So, can we start to honour the child within and use yoga as a tool to forget our ‘failures’ and keep going, viewing each challenge as a new experience. And if we can develop this tenacity on the mat imagine the possibilities if we apply it to our daily lives. We would throw ourselves wholeheartedly into life, embracing challenges and living fully in the present moment … Now how frickin’ awesome would that be πŸ˜‰ #yoga #yogaeverydamnday #handstand #yogalove #yogagirl #yogaeverywhere #yogaeveryday #yogalife #yogapose #yogainspiration #yogapractice #yogagram #yogadaily #lombok #travellingyogi #travellingyogijenn

Sent from my iPhone

No Fear

image

Ok so we’ve established the importance of play both on and off the mat to create a fun and joyful practice. If that wasn’t enough to coax out your inner child … I’m hoping this post will have you playing hopscotch with your neighbours kids πŸ˜‰

We all know children seem to have no fear right? They throw themselves wholeheartedly into activities with little thought of the consequences. Case in point … have you ever seen a child practicing handstands on the beach or in the park? They try, they fall, they cry and go running to Mommy, but after a quick cuddle, they’re back out practicing within minutes, having seemingly forgotten they ever messed up.

I don’t believe children are like this because they have a lack of fear of hurting themselves, it’s because of their lack of inhibitions. They really don’t give two shits if they fall over and look silly … How many adults can truly say the same?

We are so concerned with what other people think of us, so frightened of not getting it right, that we sabotage ourselves.

In my classes I encourage my students to learn as children learn. Turn up … Try … Fall … Laugh … Repeat. That’s yoga!!!

As you can see from this video, my handstands are still a work in progress. I do my best and it’s perfectly enough that I just show up for myself every day and embrace the challenge.

So, can we start to honour the child within and use yoga as a tool to forget our ‘failures’ and keep going, viewing each challenge as a new experience. And if we can develop this tenacity on the mat imagine the possibilities if we apply it to our daily lives. We would throw ourselves wholeheartedly into life, embracing challenges and living fully in the present moment … how frickin awesome would that be? πŸ˜‰

http://www.facebook.com/travellingyogijenn

instagram – the_travelling_yogi

Sent from my iPhone

Why So Serious?

image

Happy Saturday world! Following on from my post yesterday about finding time in your life to play, I wanted to bring the concept back to the yoga mat to encourage you to begin to explore your practice with a sense of curiosity and lightheartedness. This is something I’m really interested in and is a real focus in my classes at the moment.

We spend our whole lives trying to ‘achieve’, to strive, to push . Think back to your last yoga class … how did you feel when you fell out of that balance, when you spied the girl next to you with her leg effortlessly behind her head? Was there a sense of defeat, of frustration, or a feeling that you’re just ‘no good at yoga’ … something us yoga teachers hear all the time by the way.

Give yourself a break!!!! You turned up didn’t you? You’re on your mat, right? Now pat yourself on the back, turn the corners of your mouth up just a little, and let’s look at the bigger picture…

By allowing yourself to explore your body without inhibitions, to mess up … and be ok with messing up, we begin to detach ourselves from the pursuit of perfection (a dangerous little thing!). Watch as that frustration and doubt dissolves and your practice starts to become joyful and fun. After all, and let’s be frank … we’re not going to reach spiritual enlightenment when we can do a handstand πŸ˜‰ There you go, I said it (yoga police shoot me down) for me at least, the mastering of postures means diddly squat … we’re practicing yoga not contortionism.

Of course the feeling you get when you’re finally able to reach the floor in uttanasana or when you press up into your first wheel is incredible, as my wonderful teacher Julie says … If you’re here just to master a handstand, go to gymnastics class. There is a reason for practicing challenging inversions in yoga, and it’s not just for physical gains. They help us to develop tenacity, courage, determination and that all important sense of play.

It’s not about getting into it that handstand … It’s what you learn on the way up πŸ˜‰

Play … Not Just for Kids

image

It’s almost the weekend! … what do you have planned? Housework, shopping, running errands… all sounds a bit like hard work doesn’t it? So this weekend I challenge you to schedule in a bit of time for play. “Don’t be ridiculous, I’m not a 10 year old child, I have things to do!” I hear you say, but bear with me for just a minute …

Our society tends to dismiss play for grown ups. It is seen as unproductive, petty or even ‘a guilty pleasure’. The notion is that once we reach adulthood, it’s time to get serious. But play is just as vital for adults as it is for kids. It brings joy into your life, fosters creativity and meaningful relationships.

You don’t have to put on a clown suit and act like a tit … play with your kids, get messy baking a cake, challenge your partner to a pillow fight, grab some friends and go to a comedy club, try a dance class, or if you’re me, dick around on the beach, get covered in sand and land on your head … A LOT!

So put down that wine glass, step away from the shopping list, ditch the high heels and go and have some good old fashioned, wholesome fun.

Happy Friday everyone πŸ™

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/travellingyogijenn

Instagram – the_travelling_yogi