Finding your yoga tribe

Oh, the joy when you find the right yoga class for you. 

It’s all happy face, party hats flying, streamers and skippiness…

But oh my, does it take time to get there!

Last year I moved 280 miles – from Manchester to Eastbourne – away from the yoga teacher I’d been with for more than six years. I had completed my British Wheel of Yoga Foundation year course with her. I had then spent more than three years in Yoga Teacher Training with her. I attended her classes and workshops.

I hadn’t anticipated how difficult it would be to find the right ‘fit’ again. I thought I was moving house, but I was leaving a lot more than bricks and mortar behind. You can skype your mates, you can’t skype in for your yoga class. Well, you can, but does it feel the same? There is something about the collective energy of a yoga class that works for you. You grow in ways you can’t alone and it nourishes you in ways solo practice can’t.

If the right class for you is the first one you try, you’re very lucky. As a teacher, you know students who come to you for the first time, may not come back. Because you’re not right for them at that point in their lives. And that’s ok.

I did not know that when I was younger and for years I persevered in classes that didn’t work for me as a yoga student. 

I found them too crowded.

I found them too rigid.

I found them too samey.

But I ploughed on, because if nothing I am resilient and I do not ‘give up’. It won’t surprise you to read I’m fairly introverted with a mile-wide rebellious streak and I get bored fairly easily. So was a honouring who I was in those busy, repetitive, ‘well if this modification doesn’t work for you then leave it out’ classes? I doubt I gave ‘me’ any thought at all as I grew up a ‘pleaser’. I was invested in pleasing the teacher, not myself.

Your yoga is all about your self care. Your honouring and deep communication with yourself. Yes, there’s a place for being led, but you’re an individual, not a facsimile of your teacher.

You’re communing with your Self. The heart of you. The soul of you, if you like.

Yes, it’s about moving your body and stilling the mind, but it’s also an intimate experience that challenges you. It’s not about pushing a square peg into a round hole.

In my fierce determination to not ‘give up’ I forgot all of that.

Of course, now I’m in my fifties and I’m accumulating more wisdom, I’m better at choosing for me, whether I’m wearing my yoga student hat or my teaching one.

I teach in the evening. I focus on slow classes, designed to build strength, but also calm the nervous system, quieten the mind and prepare my students for a good night’s sleep. It’s absolutely appropriate for the class. But more importantly, it’s important to me to give an alternative to fast flow. I value smaller, cosy teaching environments. It feels right. It feels nurturing and, to me, it feels slightly rebellious. Ticking all my core value boxes.

So if you’ve tried yoga and you thought it wasn’t for you, try a different teacher. But don’t give up just because your first experience wasn’t a perfect fit. The right fit is waiting for you. It’s not you. It’s not the teacher. It just is. Think about who you truly are and find someone who reflects those values in a way you can recognise. 

Everyone will be far happier.

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