Yesterday I met online with my yoga teacher, Chris Priest. I felt emotional making contact and having space to think about my own practice. It was my first lesson since lockdown. Yoga has gradually woven its way through my life. My own daily practice is a priority more than ever but it hasn’t always been that way. My first teacher was Chris Fielder when I was pregnant with Joe, now 23 years old. Three years later, Will came along and Chris supported me through pregnancy again. I wanted to continue with yoga after pregnancy and Chris agreed to teach me and I’m so grateful that she did. I would turn up every four to six weeks in a fug of chronic fatigue and parenting mayhem. Most of the time I did not practice between lessons but she remained committed to my practice. She could have very easily finished the relationship but we continued on. Eventually with an established practice and realising the benefit of sustained practice, I made noises about attending a foundation course. It was at this point that Chris said it was time to begin with a new teacher and she knew who that should be, Kay Wensley. I was gutted but trusted her decision and Kay was fantastic. Chris also steered me towards Sadhana Mala for my learning.
It took me a long time to commit to learning to teach yoga. As I glance at the date, I realise that I’ve been teaching for nine years (including my student teaching). I have never been one for short courses. If I am going to commit to study I want it to have depth and breadth. A three week intensive just doesn’t suit my learning style. Learning with Dave (Charlton) and Ranju (Roy) was an enriching and challenging five year experience. There’s something in my make-up that makes me commit fully to an extended learning but then I twist and turn, trying to push boundaries and question why I’m being asked to do certain things. The pranayama six month diary and practice during the third year was the hardest part of the course. I discussed it with Kay and she explained I was ‘cooking’. I complained to Dave and Ranju; they listened but they didn’t budge! It made me appreciate the power and importance of breath.
Over the course I made close friendships. These are as important to me as the yoga. I have friends who accept me as I am. They are patient when I am challenging and challenge me when I need to be challenged. They have celebrated my successes and supported me when I feel weary or doubt myself. As well as the teachings and practice of yoga, I have a community I can be at home in.
I started my teaching practice with friends and colleagues at Penny Brohn Cancer Care. I then began a class in Long Ashton Community Centre and at Church House. For some reason the class numbers reduced and we worked in small groups at my home. Eight years ago I started at Yanley Court and moved all my therapies and yoga classes to that space. Everyone appreciated the magic of the Loft.
So to the present day and we are separated by the demands of a pandemic. Yanley Court has closed. I have recreated a space in my home. It feels like the right space to be in. My yoga practice and teaching have provided a means to continue with my business and to support a loyal client/student base. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful. I never thought that part of my teaching provision would be online. The Morning Dailies have given me a daily structure and connection during lockdown. It isn’t the same as face to face but we are developing as a group. Some people come for the whole week, others dip in and out once or twice a week or when they can. Today when I was watching everyone work and stay with the breath, I thought the screen had frozen. It was a wonderful moment of stillness and it made me appreciate what has been nurtured and created between us.
The term classes have enabled us to continue meeting as weekly groups. I know this has been difficult for some. Space and wifi has to be negotiated with the family; I know that there are TVs on in the background, grocery deliveries arrive at just the wrong time, partners nudge doors open to see if we have finished, children are living their lives at volume and occasionally a cat’s tail or a dog’s nose appears at the screen. This can all be managed for the class as a whole but I know individuals are unable to MUTE their own households while we practice. Thank you for adapting to online teaching in the home. It reminds me of trying to practice yoga on campsites either with other campers watching me on dewy grass or fitting arm raises and forward bends into the cramped space of the caravan, usually with the family being aware of my every move.
I have been meeting groups for online meditation on Mondays and Fridays. With information sent out before and after we meet, we can focus on sitting together virtually and having the support of the group to contain us for a meditative experience. I am not a meditation teacher. I am a yoga teacher with a mixed experience and varied approach to meditation. I am enjoying sharing this to find different ways to approach meditation without high ideals or expectation. I am continuing with these two spaces through July. I have found in the four weeks we have met that my own practice is more focused. I meditate at the end of my morning yoga practice and am finding that I am sitting for longer and with less tension.
Another joy of my online week is the reiki share. We meet every Wednesday morning for an hour. I guide a meditation for everyone to connect to themselves and to healing energy. We then send healing to each individual within the group, finishing with a healing circle for our community and beyond. Reiki was founded by Usui Mikao who was a Tendai Buddhist. Buddhism states that we are all connected. We are one. Distant healing is an obvious practice and not something that needs doctrine or a belief system. Calling someone to mind is the beginning of distant healing. For some this is a form of prayer. I heard a quote recently: ‘prayer is a conversation, meditation is listening‘. In reiki practice we do both.
I am missing the physicality of my bodywork practice but I have four willing bodies at home. We have had the futon and the couch out. The days seem to be a succession of food, exercise, yoga and bodywork. There’s usually at least one body eating, exercising or practising yoga.
When I started teaching online I was very aware of the two dimensional aspect of zoom. The need to focus on words and facial expressions was exhausting. As time rumbles on, I am beginning to feel some of the more subtle communication between us. When we are allowed back into the wild, I assume my work will be a mixture of face to face and online experiences. I am unsure of when I will be able to change from only online work and I do like to have a plan. For July, I am set up for another month of online work.
Stay in touch, I like hearing about your experiences and insights. If you have any questions about how we can work together do ask.