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Can Yoga Be Just On The Mat?

When I think of myself as a yoga teacher, compared to others, I can wonder if I can come across as 'too much'. This is an echo of a personal negative thought pattern; I'm a Leo sun and Scorpio moon so naturally I have often felt that I'm too much for myself even! Then take this view and project it onto the way I assume others must view me.

Some yoga teachers do not talk so much. Some do not encourage self-reflection and prefer to keep their classes minimalistic and all about the asana (postures). For a seasoned yogi, these classes are powerful and challenging from a deeper relationship with movements alone; if I can keep my composure, stay patient and calm, stay non judgemental towards myself and stay focused throughout all of the asana movements- I've achieved something.

A seasoned yogi has the understanding that the way we act on the mat is a reflection of the way we are off the mat, but many beginner yogis may not yet understand this. For this reason, they may not be able to gain this kind of knowledge (at least quickly), from these kind of classes.

When a teacher is reserved, I feel that mostly only others on the yogic path already will be able to take the full meaning from their class. This is totally fine, it's a non-pushy way to do things. Those who are open to learning the lessons their bodies are sharing with them will find them, and those who have just come for the movements can just take that. Sometimes though, some of the deeper meaning may start to seep through, and this is the magic of yoga. Either way, there's no rush to be anywhere; and a nice feeling as a student: if you're here you're here, if you're not, be where you are.

This style of teaching isn't mine. I'm a very communicative person; writing 500 words is a lot easier for me than writing 200, and when I teach yoga it's the same way. I want to give everyone who comes to my class the best chance they have at understanding what yoga is about. I want to share any kinds of tips and tricks that have helped me to arrive at where I'm at, to any student who comes to my class. Yoga is magic, and I want people to experience this.

Crucially, yoga is a spiritual practise to me above all else. To remove the spiritual element of my classes because it's 'too much' would be fake. It's not what I want to do. And to hide my authenticity, especially in the context of being a yoga teacher, would be against the loving yogic principles I hold so close. In short, it's something I couldn't do. Firstly for myself, and secondly because as a teacher I am leading by example, and how could I encourage acceptance and authenticity in my teachings, if I'm not living that way myself?

Being 'too much' isn't a thing! If we act out of honesty and authenticity, then however we present ourselves is just right. Some people would love to come to my class every day, and for some people once in a while is enough. This is totally ok. As a yogi, the way I conduct myself as a person, a teacher, a business and a friend, is as much of a reflection of how advanced a yogi I am as how well I can instruct the asana poses.

Once you're committed to yoga, there is no path that allows the yoga to remain only on the mat. Yoga becomes you. You become yoga. When we don't let yoga embody us, or we act in a way that goes against yogic principles, we feel it. We know when we've done something that isn't authentic or correct, and then we forgive ourselves because we're still learning too. Just as being able to do a certain pose takes time, becoming a more authentic version of ourself takes time too.

I can't try and be like any other yoga teachers, because the moment I start to be untrue to myself, the moment the yoga falls apart. As a teacher, I embody yoga for myself, my students, and everyone around me. I try and reflect the principles I hold both on and off the mat, in the ways that feel right to me. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't, but it's never 'too much' and it's always beautiful to know that yoga is forever guiding me along the way.

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