Why Teach Yoga?
As I sit on my 14 hour flight back home, I have roughly 4 hours left to go I think it is time to share the highlights of an experience i will never forget and answer the question why teach yoga?
14 months ago I took the plunge and signed up for Yoga teacher training. If you asked me back then why I wanted to be a yoga teacher, the answer was simply, I love pilates and love teaching it, so because I love yoga I would like to teach that too, coupled with the fact that I have always been a WHY? child. I studied pilates because I wanted to know why it healed my lower back injury and I guess to be honest I wanted to study yoga to understand just why it makes me feel better in general.
I couldn’t really put my finger on what makes me feel better after yoga but I knew I did so the quest began…
Mayacamas Ranch the lovely place we lived at for our month long intensive Yoga Teacher Training, with Gina Caputo and Kathryn Budig
After spending 28 days at the most blissful ranch in the Nappa Valley with 3 of the most amazing yoga teachers I have ever met Gina Caputo, Kathryn Budig, Caitlyn Kinney, and 32 other yoga teacher trainees, I now have many answers to why I was drawn to add Yoga to my studio and not just stop at pilates.
I know there will be more and more reasons to come but here is my why.
Yoga is the strength behind how it seemed possible to travel to the other side of the world to study with teachers I had only recently discovered, rather than take the easy option of local weekend classes the way I studied pilates. With no disrespect to any teacher training programs in Australia, it just seemed the thing for Sonia to do. I had spent 12 months in the States before and have always had a soft spot in my heart for Americans. Now I get to bring a little piece of knowledge home from my beloved continent which I am honoured and blessed to share with my Australian yoga students. These ladies have years of experience and the roots of their teachings come from the very early teachers in the United States.
The reason I say Yoga was the strength behind my determination, is that I now understand just how yoga works. It gives you the experience of doing something you never thought was possible, we all have dreams to do things and with the asanas of yoga you get to experience pushing your body outside of it’s comfort zone towards amazing poses in the safety of your yoga studio on your mat. Which then translates into courage to the do the things you want to do off the mat in your life.
I had never realised this until during my training I got to see myself push past many fears of hurting or injuring myself to a place where something else was possible. Inspired by my teachers who push you to do what you don’t think possible, from a loving space of “I’ve got you back, you can do this”
There is nothing like the relationship where the teacher holds the space for the student to push the boundaries of what is possible for themselves . We human beings are built for survival which equals keeping safe, staying inside the boundaries.
Me and my teacher the amazing Gina Caputo – Yogini on the Loose http://www.ginacaputo.com/
Keep in mind when reading my story I have been practicing different types of yoga and pilates for over 10 years and this experience was in my intensive teacher training. Yoga is a practice and with time and a supportive teacher to keep you safe you too can push towards your edge, please realise if you are new to yoga, this type of experience happens when and only when you are ready for the challenge. Yoga is your journey and every journey is individual. Many people have fears about back bending and handstands, it is completely natural fear because these are not shapes or positions we ordinarily do with our body.
Here is just one example to take you on the journey and perhaps inspire you to start or keep going with your yoga practice.
At the age of 2 or 3 I am jumping blissfully on my parents double bed, having the time of my life, until I fall, my dad rushes in, he is taking care of me while mum is working her weekend shift at the hospital. I don’t remember details but I have broken my collar bone. I have the memory because we have a photo of my shoulder strapped and all my life have been told never ever jump on the bed, the safety boundary I created. My body has trapped the details and definitely kept me safe ever since.
I am the one who gets really excited to do daring things but will never do them unless someone takes charge and tells me its ok and safe. I don’t jump off anything and I practice “safe” sporting pursuits like pilates, yoga, paddle boarding, walking the dog. None of these push you to the edge of your fear. Or so I thought until I arrived at yoga teacher training.
They say yoga creeps up on you the way it needs to, just like your special recipe and I can honestly say that is the case for me. I remember many occasions in the last 4 weeks thinking what the *** have I done, I don’t belong here.
In one of our last yoga classes of the training, I was introduced to deep back bends and handstand prep in the middle of the room. The minute Kathryn told us this is what we would work on my heart jumped to my throat and my body wanted me out of that room. But I summoned my why and said to myself you can do this, they have got your back.
Handstand prep away from the wall, if not for the weeks of yoga leading up to this point and the strength I had already gained, i would have sat it out but I chose to just follow the cues right to the edge of the fear.
Me and Kathryn Budig – My teacher I had followed online for the 14 months prior to teacher training at www.yogaglo.com
Inspired by the practice of my fellow trainees who gracefully pop up into handstands and hang out there like they are standing on their feet, I keep going. The cue was leaning into our hands off of one foot, the fear was real and terrifying, it bought back the memory of being hurt, even though theoretically I knew that the worst I could do was fall over and maybe face plant. At that moment I heard Kathryn, this beautiful strong lady still cueing the class but right in front of me, encouraging me to breath and cueing every movement needed to keep me safe, but push me through what was stopping me. We held the pose a little longer and then got to come out and I honestly believe my body was reassured by the fact it was ok. Ever the learner, I will look into this further, something to do with the central nervous system that fascinates me. So handstand press up is now something I am adding to my practice when I get back home and find just the right teacher for Sonia.
The other pose in this amazing practice was a back bend from kneeling, at 27 again I injured myself, this time playing trivial pursuit, I know you will have to read that twice, my posture had got so week that just moving the wrong way to roll the dice put me in bed for over a week. Funny really since I choose my activities for safety.
We get to the back bend of this class and I literally just kneel there not willing to bend, my body always tells me in back bends this is not a wise position for me to be in. Gina who is assisting this class while Kathryn is teaching, comes to assist me, she gently supports me from the front and encourages me into the back bend, then Kathryn appears behind me and gives me the extra encouragement needed to reach out towards her and allow my back to bend. As they gently bring me out of the pose words cannot describe the relief that I experienced knowing the strength I now I have in my back from all my pilates practice. It was truly one of those experiences I will never forget but also the answer to why teach yoga?
The main building of Mayacamas Ranch which was our yoga studio everyday, such a beautiful tranquil place to learn all that was there to learn 🙂
I know that everyone has walked a different path, so your story will not be the same, but there will be things that hold you back, because you are also a human being, with safety nets created from your experiences. Yoga is a way to build the strength to do the things you always wanted to do, but stopped and never knew why. And if I can give this wisdom away to just one person, that is why I want to teach Yoga.
Cheers and hope to see you in a yoga class soon.
Much love – Sonia Louise