As a teacher, I love concluding a class knowing that I really reached the students. Some kind of magic happened, and there’s a palpable feeling in the air – the things that were said, the things they did, it all landed. They feel great, and so do I. It doesn’t happen every time! So, it’s special when it does.
Yoga teachers reading this will know that same, special feeling. In a way, it’s a call to action: to go outside our teaching comfort zones and reach new groups with different needs and wants. I say that because it’s wonderful to work with the people and methods we already connect with. It’s great then to reach out and extend that connection to new methods and groups whenever we can.
Many Hatha and Vinyasa teachers will never have taught in heat. Often, they have very valid reasons – usually, an unpleasant experience in a studio that perhaps didn’t embody the values of Yoga. Well, it doesn’t have to be like that – all studios are not the same. There are studios that live the tradition with authenticity and use heat. And they have buzzing communities of engaged students, who all share the teacher’s love of Yoga.
10 weeks ago yesterday I broke my spine in a motorbike accident – you can read what happened here. Initially I was told I had broken my L1 vertebra and was prescribed a back brace, crutches and an unholy amount of cocodamol which I never took.
I really needed the back brace andthe crutches after the accident. I couldn’t walk on my own without the support of both. And even with those two to help me, I couldn’t make myself a cup of tea or run myself a bath for the first 2 weeks. I felt close to completely helpless. The only thing I could do was sleep, read, watch Netlfix (obviously) and practice copious amounts Yoga Nidra to hopefully boost my healing response. I knew I was one of the lucky ones, that I could heal, but it didn’t stop the difficult moments getting to me.
The accident was July 17th. It has taught me that I really am not someone to take this lying down (so to speak!). I did as much as I could whenever I could. As soon as I could make my own lunches and dinners, I was cooking. As soon as I could carry lightweight objects, I was putting the rubbish out. As soon as I could drive, or perhaps a little too soon before I could drive, I was behind the wheel.
Quantum physics says that matter – at the smallest level – isn’t solid. It’s clouds of energy, and it’s impossible to know for sure what it’s doing unless you measure it. When you measure it, all the possibilities it could hold (the wave function) collapse into one outcome.
I think that rings true of any situation. I can’t see the future, but I’ll give it all my best shot and see how things turn out.
This New Scientist article goes on to say, “How did our universe come to be, out of a seemingly vast number of equally likely possibilities allowed by the laws of physics?”
You love Yoga and Hot Yoga, and you’ve been practicing consistently for a while. You love the way it makes you feel, and you really notice when you can’t go for any reason. Life just seems simpler and more manageable when you practice regularly, even though nothing’s really changed. Sure, there are times when you feel like just staying at home and vegging out. But you get up and get to class anyway, because you know that you’ll be glad you did.
Does any of this ring true for you? Yep, you’ve got the Hot Yoga bug alright!
If this is you, then you’ve already come a long way. If you could see the person you were, if you could see your posture shapes the first time you went to class, then you’d be amazed at how much you’ve changed since then. It might feel like that’s all thanks to the magic of Yoga and Hot Yoga. And it is, but there’s more: it’s your hard work that’s moved you forward, and the good guidance of the studio and teachers you’ve stuck with.
*warning – a tad of strong language follows. But I broke my back so I think it’s okay!
It’s a day like any other. Work, family, jokes, laughter, plans for my practice later, plans for dinner with my husband, enjoying the challenges of day to day life. I leave work at about 1:30, grateful to finish the day early and get a longer time to myself for my yoga practice.
The accident is a blur. One moment I’m swinging my leg over my motorbike with the familiar feeling of excitement for a fun packed 2 wheeled journey. The next moment, I smash into the side of a van. I’m in excruciating pain, in the middle of the road with the impending threat of a shouting van driver. So..much..pain. The van driver is screaming and shouting. I’m in the middle of the road with surrounding traffic. My bike is making unhappy noises. And I have this looming threat of being called a “stupid woman” in the back of my mind (at least that seems to be the tone of the van driver in the moment).
A lady wants to call the ambulance but I’m not sure. I have to move, but my back won’t let me. I drag myself as close to the curb as I can before giving up and laying in the road, in direct sunlight.
Now the pain REALLY sets in! Wow my back. Fuck. Seriously. Ouch. Yes call the ambulance because I can’t move anywhere without making a serious situation even worse.
How can the study of anatomy deepen your Yoga and Hot Yoga practice? Well for one thing it can provide scientific guidelines to help you keep your body safe. For example, did you know that the discs that stack between and cushion your vertebrae get rehydrated whilst you sleep, so your spine is literally longer after a nights sleep. Pretty cool fact but how can this apply to a Yoga and Hot Yoga practice. Well, because your spine is longer in the morning this means all the ligaments and tendons that hold the spine together are tighter in the morning than in the evening. And tight ligaments feel stiff and are easier to pull. So, if you are practicing in the morning you should expect the body to feel stiffer in backbends than later in the day, and perhaps you might warm the back up more or go lighter in backbending postures then you would in an evening practice.
Right now is the time when teacher trainees earn our respect the most, at the half-way point of the program. They’ve already learned a great deal: they can plan and hold safe classes, and they can discuss Yoga and anatomy in ways they never anticipated. But most of all they understand how little we all really know, and that’s a sobering realisation.
Training is also difficult because our relationship to practice changes. Yoga was always there for us in the past: the one refuge from all that modern-day madness was the little temple of the Yoga mat. But now in Yoga and Hot Yoga classes, we find ourselves analysing the sequence, checking our alignment – sometimes with self-criticism – and assessing how the teacher is delivering the practice. Naturally, people ask: “Will I ever get MY Yoga back again?”
The short answer is: Yes, you will, and it’ll happen with a new richness of knowledge and depth of understanding about what you’re doing. There’ll be a feeling of new magic in your practice once you integrate your course experiences. But first, something equally magical but very different has to happen. It’s a kind of re-birth, and like all beautiful birth events, it comes with its measure of difficulty.
Sam Hothersall found her symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) so crippling that she moved to Malta to avoid the long British winter. Last autumn she was anxiously awaiting the onset of SAD when a friend recommended she tried hot yoga at Yogafurie.
For Sam, an arts teacher at a secondary school, attending the classes was a revelation. ‘It was amazing,’ she says. ‘I went five times a week through the winter and it really helped me. I was waking up early and going before work, and I felt lovely and warm all day.’
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