This article is written in answer to a fellow teachers question of
"how to bring in spirituality to a class without overwhelming people?"
but hopefully y'all non-teacher folk can take something from it also. I'm going to outline my teacher journey as an example.
I have always been drawn to spiritual "stuff", I chose a path of science as I felt religion was to closely connected with war, and as a result lost my connection with spirituality temporarily. I didn't realise I could actually embrace, support and follow both science and spirituality until I met Yoga.
Yoga started off for me as 'just a stretch' but over time I started to dabble in all the other good stuff that comes with a regular asana practice. But upon completing my teaching training I had still never uttered an Ohm, and sure as heck wasn't gonna start with my first class in the Crossfit gym.
I enjoyed reading about the Chakras, I had a large (and growing) gem collection, I had really started to notice the true benefits of breathing through tight spaces, but I "couldn't" meditate, I'd never felt my bandhas, and how freaking awkward is it going to be if I Ohm out of tune or nobody joins in!!
So I merrily chucked chakras, crystals and pranayama into my classes, met with various responses from my students, but for 18 months I taught without an Ohm, I almost took pride in the fact I wasn't one of those teachers! Haha.
It was during my Rocket training I felt the true power of an enthusiastic Ohm, an individual chant but even better when the whole class joins in.
I also had a "proper" savasana" experience, learnt where my bandhas were and how to use them, and even started to play with meditation.
TEACH WHAT YOU PRACTICE & PRACTICE WHAT YOU TEACH
I came back and just added it all into the mix without really thinking at first, and then I thought for a moment "hmm maybe this is too much, too different, what if people come to my classes coz I'm not mega spirtiual".
But then I realised its me now, I'm allowed to grow, to change, to explore.
And well if I'm too much for some people then that's not really my problem. They'll find another teacher that aligns with their current values and needs.
YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BE THE TEACHER FOR EVERYBODY.
I don't really plan, literally have no filter and I teach from my heart.
What comes out is a real, true authentic version of me, my beliefs & my yoga practice.
I am constantly learning new things so I am going to be saying different stuff time to time, I am experiencing new stuff on & off my mat, so I'll be sharing that with you.
I'll be the first to admit that perhaps I might be contradicting myself slightly sometimes but this is a journey and I want to take you with me! How boring would a long straight road through the same landscape be . . .
So I guess my point is if it doesn't feel good don't do, share or teach it.
If you haven't experienced it, if you don't practice it, then chances are you're gonna o a shoddy job of teaching it.
The uncomfortable not-genuine vibes will ruin any positive gain somebody might get from you just regurgitating somebody else's class, opinion etc. If you don't really believe it how can you expect your class to.
When it comes from the heart, like just comes out of your mouth with out thinking then that's AUTHENTIC.
So while I joke about sneaking spirituality in, I don't try to do that, it just happens. I say stuff and people don't really even bat an eyelid anymore, they can take it on in that moment or store it for when it makes sense, I Ohm solo or in harmony with 16 students, I "shavass" my classes for as long as possible sometimes even 15-20 minutes without the previous fear I held that they'll wish they'd done more physical, coz I wholeheartedly believe in the benefits and people will feel that honesty & passion.
Yoga Philosophy makes sense when it flows natural and not forced. The more you practice asana the more you will find the Yamas & Niyamas moving onto your mat, off of your mat and working your way around the other limbs.
THIS CANNOT BE RUSHED AND MUST BE EXPERIENCED BY THE INDIVIDUAL TO POSITIVELY AFFECT THEIR LIFE AND THEIR PRACTICE.
As a teacher I have learnt the only real responsibility I have to my students is to keep it real. No faking, no BS. To show up for myself, to practice, and to hold space for them to show up for them selves. I am not here to make you "believe" in Yoga philosophy, I am simply here to share my yoga journey, so you can feel inspired to go on your own.
"IF YOU TELL THE TRUTH, YOU'LL NEVER HAVE TO REMEMBER ANYTHING" - Mark Twain
I guess it all comes down to Satya, truthfulness.
Truthfulness can basically be divided into;
1) Honest Opinion
As long as you are sharing from these two places you are being true to you. Things may fall in and out of category 1 as you learn more, things may also fall in and out of 2 as Science advances.
But ENERGY DOESN'T LIE and that will never change.
You're genuine 'in-that-moment' energy is the most important thing as you interact with others and the world around you.
Satya follows from Ahimsa, Kindness & Compassion, so as long as your actions/words are from a loving, honest place YOU CARRY ON DOING YOU!
And also perhaps sprinkle a little forgiveness in the mix, allowing yourself to change, permission to evolve!
You can't make people be ready for anything you can only show them how it is for you & let them know, when they are ready, you'll be here to share it with them.
If people just want a stretch THATS OK!
Don't be rude, don't be fake, and maybe they'll come back and stretch real good while you discuss the root chakra.
If it serves their higher purpose they'll tune in (perhaps unknowingly!)
Hold a Kind, Honest, Open space where people can TRUST you & learn to trust themselves.
The rest is just Yoga Magic.