This week’s yoga classes have been full of even more joy and celebration than usual due to the fact that I’ve been teaching yoga for 21 years! They say time flies when you are having fun and I can confirm it certainly does. I consider it such a privilege to share my yoga experience (which I consider somewhat limited, as the more I learn the more I realize there is to learn) with others and receive payment for doing so!
How lucky am I that I get to practice, discover, learn, share and teach yoga every day of my life? Yoga means Union. “In Sanskrit, the word ‘yoga’ is used to signify any form of connection. Yoga is both a state of connection and a body of techniques that allow us to connect to anything. Conscious connection to something allows us to feel and experience that thing, person, or experience.” [Source: www.bigshakti.com]. Mindfulness is the essence of this connection and originates from meditation practice.
My yoga journey began in the early 1970’s watching the late Lyn Marshall on TV, initially presented by the late Richard Hittleman entitled ‘Yoga for Health’. One of my older sister’s watched and practiced yoga to the TV programme and I always attempted to join in which wasn’t always welcomed by my sibling! This didn’t deter me however as I was so attracted to yoga and loved the way it made me feel. It allowed me to journey inward, a real voyage of self-discovery, an inner-retreat like getting lost in a good book, and on reflection quite profound for a 6 year old child.
Lyn Marshall was like a goddess to me, her beautiful long, lithe, flexible form clad in matching coloured leotard and tights in a rainbow of shades, her shiny brown, perfectly styled hair. I loved yoga and practiced alone or with my dog, horse or both, at every given opportunity. I didn’t have a leotard or tights though, in fact I wore casual clothes, and my naturally long curly hair was quite wild by comparison. I learned the yoga techniques, followed the clear, concise instruction and demonstration, trying, as Lyn Marshall advised, “Try not to fidget”. (There are many vintage clips of the wonderful late Lyn Marshall teaching yoga on YouTube).
When I started secondary school I bought a copy of ‘Wake-Up to Yoga’ – one of Lyn Marshall’s books, and used it so much I knew it by heart. I longed to attend a yoga class but I was considered too young, until aged 14 years I went along to a yoga class held by a wonderful female teacher who welcomed me. I continued to attend this class for many years and went on to frequent as many yoga classes, yoga events, yoga retreats, yoga holidays, as I could, experiencing a variety of different yoga teachers and yoga styles. Ironically, several of my long standing yoga students attended those yoga classes too.
In my early 20’s I decided to apply for a Yoga Teaching Training course with the British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) and was accepted, however, I started travelling the world and put this training on hold for a few years until I was more settled and in a position to fund my training.
I eventually started and successfully completed the BWY Teaching Diploma but lacked confidence, was terrified of actually teaching and found the assessed teaching practices very challenging. Thanks to my wonderful Diploma course tutor and wonderful course colleagues, I decided to complete the training, for my sheer love of yoga and the opportunity to study the subject in more depth, but decided to not actually become a yoga teacher. I found the process of teaching – standing in the spotlight, issuing instructions, providing precautions, modifications, guidance, so difficult. Initially I used to be a bath of sweat, my heart pounding, face flushed red, head down practically reading my lesson plan word for word, glued to my mat, full of fear!
Thankfully the whole process became easier and I embraced the teaching of yoga. One of the quotes from my first yoga teaching practical assessment – “A long time student of yoga with a variety of teachers over the years, together with diligent, study and research is evident. An excellent teacher in the making!”
I had experienced a real transformation towards the completion of the yoga teacher training course. At my final yoga teaching assessment I confidently arranged the borrowed class into a semi-circle (as many of you know I dislike rows and straight lines) and was described as “Neat and tidy appearance. Very clear, concise instruction and easily heard (lovely Welsh Accent). Friendly, confident and good-humoured. There was an excellent, relaxed class atmosphere with a good mix of serious work and plenty of laughter.” So I guess I developed my unique teaching style very early on with everyone sitting in semi-circles, circles or ovals, with a blend of yoga in a friendly, good-humoured fashion and laughter!
My yoga diploma course tutor is still very much part of my life and she calls me “an eternal student” as I continue my study of yoga and have attended many specific yoga modular courses:
- Yoga for Pregnancy
- Yoga for Post Natal Recovery
- Yoga for Children
- Yoga for Prananyama
- Yoga Meditation Module
- Ayurveda & Yoga Module
I consider my wonderful students, past, present and future to be my greatest teaching resource. I adore teaching yoga and am always continuing to learn. I’m so fortunate to have two wonderful ladies, from my first yoga class still with me today. Also, I must be doing something right as there are many more students, who have become friends over the decades, who continue their yoga experience with me. In fact I consider them to be my Yoga Family!
I feel overjoyed and so richly blessed to be celebrating the 21st Anniversary of Yoga with Geri and am looking forward to sharing my yoga journey for many years ahead. I would love to hear from you if you’ve experienced my yoga teaching in the past so please get in touch to let me know how yoga has affected your life journey.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
Geri – October 2018