My personal practice has been suffering of late. Time, but also boredom, has kept me off the mat. Granted, I have been practising a lot of yoga of daily life, being aware, present, joyful, honest and patient. Well, most of the time.
When you give yourself permission to abandon the rules, to listen and truly explore and celebrate your body through the shapes and then share what you discover with your students, the movement becomes medicine. My partner and Laughing Lotus co-founder, Jasmine Tarkeshi, always says that to be a good teacher you’ve got to be a soul scientist. You truly must go into a laboratory and investigate your sacred self through your body, every single day.
Heck yeah! I need to remember that sometimes.
The system I know and teach is called Viniyoga. The central tenet of this system is “the yoga adapts to the person, not the person to the yoga”. It is a system that can be considered the peak of Krishnamacharya’s life’s work and investigation. I believe wholeheartedly in that core message and have iron faith in my teacher, Carmen, and my lineage (Krishnamacharya -> TKV Desikachar -> Claude Maréchal -> Christina S. de Ynestrillas -> Carmen Sánchez Segura). And yet, and yet…lately something hadn’t been quite right.
I embarked on the second phase of my teacher training, the “Post-Formation” last autumn. The format was different than the first part (once every two months, a residential weekend away) but the content built solidly on the earlier teachings. Perhaps a bit too solidly…more sutras? more posture analysis? etc…Boredom has always been my bugbear, so I knew I need not heed that little voice inside saying “something new…something new…go and find something new…”
What was putting me off? Boredom, yes. But more than anything, a distinct lack of joy was bringing the whole tone down. I felt the need to knuckle down for the seminars rather than blossom out. In the meantime, I had enjoyed the wonders of Stretch Therapy and the deep relaxation of Yin Yoga.
I began to doubt…was Viniyoga too limited? Are the postural compensations too often, too indulgent, not challenging enough? Why is it that those who practice Viniyoga seem to do so for a very long time without ever developing the stunning and deep flexibility that other lineages develop? Why do my teachers, who evidently know a lot about yoga and have practised for years not seem to smile, not seem joyful (with the exception of Claude) ? The questions rolled round my head and I found no answers.
The second, then the third seminars dragged on. One of the group dropped out. Doubt, head-scratching, the decision to stay.
Then, I read this article and realised something both simple and profound. Having completed the teacher training, having practised solidly since 1999, I had earned the right to innovate, create, both in my personal practice and in my classes. Of course, I had always done this, I know that I am creative when it comes to sequencing, bhavanas, important details. But, still, I limited myself.
I think I will grant myself a little more leeway from now on, find out how Viniyoga adapts to Rachel, not Rachel to Viniyoga.
I still believe that the training I am pursuing is the highest quality teaching I can receive here and now. It is I who needs to transform. OM. May you find your own path, too. The Guru is in you.