top of page

What kind of a yoga teacher am I?

This is a question that I have been musing on ever since I began to teach professionally over two years ago. My teacher training gave us a taste of various styles, from Hatha to Ashtanga, Yin and Restorative, and when you come to my classes I usually weave a bit of everything into them. But - what kind of a teacher am I? Am I somatic-based? Anatomically focused? Trauma informed? Accesible? To all those I can honestly say YES.


As I'm diving headfirst into this self-employment realm, I'm taking business tips from wherever I can. One thing that keeps popping up is "find your niche" or"find who you like to teach and focus on them". Truth is, I don't want to corner myself off from people by saying I only teach a certain style/demographic/yoga for a certain need or ailment. I think it is fantastic that there are teachers focused on accessibility and being trauma informed....but I do think that in this day in age, ALL holders of space (ie, teachers) need to be trauma informed and make classes accessible to whomever shows up.

(SIDE NOTE: if you are considering doing a teacher training of any kind, please do make sure that they include being trauma informed and accessible to all ability levels).


As far as styles and lineages go, I've always practiced Vinyasa because that was my natural segue into my yoga practice after exiting the dance world. Ashtanga is the original vinyasa style, with a set sequence, so without me realising for years that I am familiar with the Ashtanga sequence, albiet not in its entirety. I've always gravitated to the more challenging classes with the firm teachers (there's that dance background again), from the Krishnamacharya lineage. And even though I still seek out an ass-kicker of an asana class, that is not what I want to teach, even though I thought that's what I would do since its what I've usually practiced.


sthira sukham asanam - "asana is a steady, comfortable posture"

Yoga Sutras 2:46


Instead of the WHO am I trying to reach and teach, I'm thinking about the WHAT...what do I like to teach, what is it that people come back to my classes for? The latter may be best answered by those that come to my classes, but from what I can tell you is that we have a lot of fun and laughs and questions whilst exploring asana, pranayam, mudra, mantra.

The former.....well, I may have begun to answer this at the tail end of that last sentence. What I do in my classes, first and foremost, is I encourgage everyone to explore each posture the way Pantanjali in the Yoga Sutras states that asana should feel in the body - strong, yet comfortable...For THEIR body. The way a certain shape of a pose on one person is not how it will look on another. It's not about being flexible, its learning to be flexible. It's building strength. Its building awareness of the body, breath, mind, and spirit and the interrelationship of all. YOGA = UNION.


yoga pose, yoga twist pose, asana
Ardha Mastyendrasana

What I am drawn to teach is Hatha Yoga.

Now, all physical asana practice falls under the umbrella of Hatha (vs. Bhakti, Raja, Karma, etc). But if you look for a yoga class, you will see a class called "Hatha" on a timetable next to a Rocket or Yin class. Often times this is labled as a "gentle " class.


I really dont like it when any yoga class is labled "gentle". I almost find it offensive.


What is gentle for one person is torture for another. Sitting still is really really difficult for A LOT of people.


In Hatha yoga we find the posture, adjust it accordingly to fit our body, and we find our focus with the breath to experience the asana on the body and on the mind. We notice where the mind goes in a pose. Can we bring it back to the present moment? Can we sit with whatever sensations arise? Can we heighten our awareness and cultivate compassion? These are the types of questions I ask my students in class.


THE ORIGINS


As a lifelong student of history, I have always been seeking the origins of things.

Where and how a culture evolved, the origins of stories and traditions.

As an Art History student at uni, my advisor, Mary Beth Heston, was the resident Asian art expert, specialising in Indian art.

I had been practicing yoga for about 5-6 years before entering Prof. Heston's 300 level Hindu Myth and Image class. I was excited to study Hindu iconography, the images that have always fascinated me, of the technicolour multi-limbed deities and all the ravashing and intricate details.


But....that's not how that class started. It was a few weeks into the course before we laid eyes on any artwork or temple structure.


We dove head first into the sacred texts. In order for us to know what we were looking at, we had to learn the source. Hands down it was one of the most challenging classes of my uni career, and people dropped out as the weeks went on, but I stuck it out because....well, at the time it may not have been apparent, but all these years later its quite clear now as where I am on my path in life. It helped to form a foundation, paved a road, that led me here as a yoga teacher (and student!)


I felt I had a slight advantage over my classmates because some of these ideas were not new to me. I had recently started practicing Jivamukti yoga, a vinyasa style developed by Sharon Gannon and David Life in the 1980s that also has its own set sequence. It was in this class that I first chanted mantra and heard Pantajali quoted. Each class is steeped in yogic knowledge....that was when my yoga practice became more than just a workout.


Coming back around to the reason of this blog post, what kind of a teacher am I, I am one who wants to honour the roots of yoga - as a white western woman, it behoves me to do so. As a student of history, it is in my nature to do so. As a practitoner of yoga, it is inherent.


And it has taken me about 2 years to discover who I am as a teacher.

I have to give gratitude to those who have shared their practice with me and for guiding me, for they have been every bit as instrumental in this discovery as all the teachers I have had in the past.


In my classes I weave in knowledge from sacred and ancient yogic texts - Bhagavad Gita, Rg Veda, Upanishads, Yoga Sutras.

With asana (poses), we practice pranayam (breath control), hasta mudra (hand gestures), mantra, all with a sense of community, lots of laughs, encouragemant, and love. And yes, I use Sanskrit interchangeably with English.


So thats who I am as a yoga teacher. If you are seeking an authentic, roots based yoga class that honours the origins and source of this practice, then I just may be your cuppa tea.

-Jenny x


Hari Om Tat Sat


lotus pose, yoga pose, asana
Padmasana



26 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page