Before the year grows to a close we caught up with some of the amazing yoga teachers in our community, as well as a few members of the Yogamatters team to find out what our biggest learning’s were in 2018. We hope you love reading the answers and it brings a spark of inspiration for the year ahead.
My takeaway’s from 2018 are all about the S’s! Stillness, space, slowing down and ultimately surrender. So much power in those S’s! It seems like everything is always moving so fast, so I’m trying to incorporate more spaciousness into my life.
My biggest takeaway from 2018 is how important it is to cultivate community as a yoga teacher. Throughout the journey of teaching it’s easy to get caught up in the work, to teach your classes and be inspired by the practice. But cultivating community means finding people that see you for who you are, support you, and you can support back. It’s the essence of the practice to find and nurture these connections. As teachers not only do we need to offer this to our students, but we must ensure that we’re creating it in our own lives and livelihood.
For me, if nothing more, my takeaway from 2018 is to reach out and make more connections with like minded people without any motivations or conditions, and find the space where we feel like we belong. This is essential to our teachings.
I have spent the last year working once a week in the NHS with adolescent girls in intensive treatment program for eating disorders. It is a heartbreaking and heart-opening environment to work in but it has served as a constant reminder of the power of this practice. Working in this setting has asked me to be in the continuous process of deeply listening to what my body needs and then honouring and supporting it.
I’ve realised that one of my highest commitments is to model and facilitate this for my students. If I can support my body in coming to rest when i’m tired, inevitably it will then lead to movement. If I can follow movement when it wants to happen, then inevitably it will lead to stillness or something else. I’ve realised that it’s when we don’t do this that we come up against conflict in our practice, both on and off the mat – when we override our own body-wisdom. 2018 has been a year where I’ve had to surrender to the ‘wildness’ of my body and my students whether that’s through physical or emotional pain and the many ways in which that manifests. My takeaway is that if we can learn to compassionately sit with the needs of our body, instead of trying to manipulate or override them then we open up the possibility for life to move through us and our yoga practice can become a deeply nourishing and therapeutic practice.
Even as someone who teaches the principles of self care to others, this has been my biggest learning this year. Although we all know we need to or ’should’ take care of ourselves to be able to show up for others, it can really be the hardest thing to do. I’ve learnt in 2018 that it’s not just what I do but the attitude of kindness that I also cultivate for myself. Genuine acceptance of myself exactly as I am in that moment, and allowing myself to adapt to work with that energy rather than push through for fear of letting people down.
My main takeaway from 2018 is that I’ll be able to give the world my best when I’ve given myself the best care first. I’ve always carried lots of guilt around the idea of putting myself first, but I’ve gradually learned how important it is to let go of this, so I can be there 100% for everyone else, be useful in the world, and put all my energy into my work!
2018 was a challenging year for me, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in April my World fell apart. I discovered what being scared really meant. Dancing with my own mortality for the first time, I saw how precious life is and what I had to be Grateful for, my yogahaven family being high up on that list. I regularly practise Gratitude as a result of this experience, both on and off my yoga mat, and have a new appreciation for life.
I learnt that I have everything I need.
Humility – to put myself in another’s shoes and seek to understand. Everybody is suffering some way that often isn’t shown, and so to be extra kind.
That compassion is wisdom, is mindfulness, is justice, is karma and is the only sane, mature and evolved response and choice in any context.
I learnt it’s OK to be me. When I shared earlier this year about suffering with Bell’s Palsy, I was overwhelmed by the response this received. I was shown that it is okay not to be perfect. By being vulnerable, I became more powerful and trusting of my innate wisdom.
I’ve been continuously noticing variations of this in both myself and my clients in 2018 that when it comes to the things that happened in the past that were difficult and traumatic; the solution we found at the time to cope with them may now be outdated and not helpful. We need to thank that part that got us through but send it off duty in the knowledge that we are now grown up and can access more creative solutions that keep us connected to others.
Everything happens when the time is ripe and not one day sooner. Therefore relax into the unknown and let go of your efforts and attempts to control a situation. It is in this space of the unknown where new answers, new perspective and creative insights will arise.
It’s scary to trust your gut sometimes, especially if you’re in your comfort zone.. but one of my big learnings from this year for me is to pay more attention to my intuition – to trust in it, and to put it into action. This year has been a big year of shedding – letting go of ideas about myself and patterns I had fallen into. I had come to the realisation that, while happy enough, there was a lot going on in my life that I had become attached to that no longer served me – the intuitive part of me knew what to do, and had known for a long time – but I had been attached to the financial or emotional safety net I had created for myself.
I stepped away from a job I enjoyed to focus on developing myself; to let go of the financial security was terrifying, but it has given me the space to learn new things, and accept new opportunities – from small changes like becoming more economic (I LOVE making my own natural toiletries and cleaning products!) to working with new people in new places. That’s just one example in a long list! From adopting a dog, to helping my husband open a new business – I listened to that bright feeling deep inside, and let go of that doubtful nattering voice in my head.
My biggest take away for 2018 was ‘surrender’. In the way of the priestess, I believe the cycle of the year begins anew in the autumn. That time in 2017 I lost a parent that I had cared for through a terminal illness and in doing so also become the matriarch of my family. As 2018 began I birthed a son and began the transformation into motherhood. I tell all my clients and students that motherhood and babies are the biggest lesson in surrender. In parallel to this expansion I have also been working hard continuing to build my business. I now feel a deep sense of knowing that my challenges have called me to see that I am worthy of my dreams and in doing so I have had to set boundaries, love and believe in myself and at the same time hold deep compassion for others on their journey without needing to fix or rescue them from it. Our souls don’t always choose the easy path but I believe they choose the one for the greater expansion of all of us.
2018 taught me the value of time. There is a lot I have yet to learn about life but what I have learned in 2018 is that my time and my health are my most precious assets. Events in 2018 helped me to understand this like never before, I had of course heard the saying ‘time is precious’ and said it myself, but it was only this year that I was ready to hear this message and feel it’s meaning. So, in 2019, I commit to spending more time with my family, my friends, out in nature, and reconnecting with my body (both on and off the mat). I give thanks to the events that offered me this awaking because it’s easy to say “I will use my time wisely” and another thing altogether to deliver on this promise – this is where motivation and discipline come into play and maybe that is what 2019 will teach me.
With the publishing of Bernie’s Clark’s Your Spine Your Yoga in 2018, I think more and more yogis are coming to terms with the fact that there are no universal principles of alignment that work for all bodies. I think we’ve taken a step closer to realising that we must make our yoga fit our bodies, rather than making our bodies fit our yoga.
I have learnt you can do anything if you set your mind to it. I completed my teacher training this year. I never even dreamt I would have the courage to stand up in front of 15 people to talk – let alone guide them through a yoga class! If you really love something, and truly believe in it, follow your intuitive path and follow your heart and you will look back to realise how far you have come. Be brave and constantly seek to do something that scares you because it is from these situations we grow. I have learnt to follow my path and not look or compare anyone else’s, because ultimately only my heart knows what it wants to craft with this life that I am so lucky to be able to live.