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Keep it simple sweetheart

Friday, September 18, 2009 by Marianne Elliott

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I just got back to New Zealand after five days in Sydney for a yoga teacher training workshop with Mark Breadner. The workshop, called "Living Yoga" was mostly theory. From 8.30am to 5.00pm for four days we dived into the theory and philosophy of yoga and at first I was drowning in the long (though very poetic) sanskrit names, the eight different limbs of yoga, the hundreds of yoga sutras, the yamas, the niyamas, the chakras, the nadis, the vayu, the kosha and the different pranayama. To give you an idea of how much information I was drowning in, I took 65 pages of notes over the four days. Uh huh. Sixty five pages of notes.

As you might imagine, somewhere at about page 35 I started to wonder whether I had been crazy to think that I was ready to be a yoga teacher. I couldn't even remember the names of all the kosha let alone be confident that I was making much progress at integrating them all in my yoga practice. I could understand the principles that where our attention goes our energy will follow, but I wasn't sure that in a class situation I could direct my attention with enough clarity of focus to engage and move the energy field of a student.

So I was very relieved when Mark put up a slide (one of more than 200) that set out his guiding principles for teaching yoga. They were:

  • All life is energy.
  • We assume that well-being is inherent and primary.
  • Or work is to offer practices that support well-being.
  • We look for the maximum amount of change while being kind to ourselves.
  • We always look for ways to rest and let down, let in.

Ah. Ahhhhhhhh. It felt like a great sigh of relief spread over the whole room. As long as we stayed within our knowledge base and always respected the  fundamentally energetic nature of the yoga practice, as long as we were inviting people to join us in yoga practice and never insisting, as long as we reminded people that the purpose of yoga was to support well-being and as long as we encouraged people to trust their own inner teacher and to take time to rest and let down, we would be teaching yoga.

It was incredibly useful and important for me to study the history, philosophy and theory of yoga in more detail and I know that something of the wisdom crammed into those sixty five pages is currently seeping its way into my conscious and subconscious mind. But it was also good to be reminded that yoga is very simple. It is a way of living that supports well-being and reveals our true nature, which is love, joy, compassion and equanimity. It includes sophisticated systems of physical, emotional, mental and energetic practices but it is also as simple as restoring unity between the breath and the body, as settling the mind into deep spaciousness, and as feeling more and more truly yourself day by day.

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5 Responses to "Keep it simple sweetheart"

  1. sas says:

    This flashed me back to my own journey to understand reiki. the symbols and the stories, the energy flows and chakras. It was all so overwhelming and complex and I just wanted to be a good student, to honour the reiki and the process.
    And yet it was when I stopped actively seeking to absorb the information and trying to ‘get it right’ that I learnt the most. When I was just in the breath, the energy, the moment, I felt it like waves.
    My reiki teacher would laugh at my angst and say but this is all in you, its everything and nothing.
    I love that 🙂

  2. Lubna says:

    Happy Yoga teaching. You will rock.

  3. gypsy Alex says:

    You are SUCH in your element in this path. I am so happy for you xxo

  4. gypsy Alex says:

    ps: I love this title! I could use some simplifying too 🙂

  5. Emily says:

    Do you think, maybe, that you might move to London & teach me yoga here? 😉
    I do so like those five bullet points. It was a pleasure to read them – both my body and mind reacted to them. Thank you for sharing.
    ~ Emily.

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