I’ve always been a word-lover.
When I was a child, my parents actually had to ask me to “please put my book down for a minute” instead of the other way around. I studied English Literature at University, and I moved abroad because I thrive on the daily challenge of completing every-day tasks in a foreign language.
Anything having to do with language, words, books… I love it! But when I’m not teaching or reading, you can find me on my yoga mat.
You’re probably thinking, “That’s weird, yoga doesn’t have much to do with language.”
Well, you’re right and you’re wrong. Yoga isn’t necessarily a language, but it is a tool for being more mindful and more connected – both with ourselves and with others.
On June 21st, 2018, I had the privilege of celebrating National Yoga Day in Dehradun, India with 50,000 others. The Prime Minister of India gave a speech, and his words hit me deep.
He looked out over 50,000 people standing quietly, peacefully, and told us that yoga is one of the most powerful unifying forces in the world. “Instead of dividing,” he said, “Yoga always unites. Instead of furthering animosity, Yoga assimilates. Instead of increasing suffering, Yoga heals.”
He told us that yoga was a calm break from our crazy, modern world, and that it helps the individual to connect their own mind, body, spirit, and soul. It crosses borders, time zones, and languages.
Yoga doesn’t discriminate.
That day I found myself at the center of the largest crowd I have ever seen in person in my entire life. And yet it was the most peaceful, hopeful, and supportive that I have ever felt. I felt the truth of what Prime Minister Modi was sharing with us.
So I went home, and I continued to practice yoga. I continued to teach English. And I noticed a huge change in both.
Yoga makes me a better student. It helps me to listen, to be more aware, and to play with subtle changes.
It taught me to understand both the small picture, and the large picture. If I move my toes, how does that affect the rest of my body? How does my posture affect the quality of my breath? Do I trust myself? Am I balanced?
And the most important lesson of all: yoga taught me to breathe. We cannot overcome anything while holding our breath.
These are the things that I try to embody as a teacher.
I remind my students to breathe.
To pay attention to the details.
To notice how something makes them feel, without judgement.
To build a strong foundation first, and to fly second.
To remember that it’s ok to fall down and ask, “What did I learn in the process?” No judgement, remember?
It’s important to celebrate the bodies and minds that we have; we don’t always have to push them so hard.
Sometimes the best thing we can do is to take a break and pat ourselves on the back.
And don’t forget to always smile! 😊
What about you?
Do you have a daily practise like Yoga that helps you to be a better person or a better student?