Both A Teacher and A Student
Posted on May 19 2017
"There is no doubt that being a great yoga teacher is being a great yoga student" - Rod Stryker
I love this guest post by Lee-ann Cordingley about her journey from going to a yoga student to a full time yoga teacher.
Yoga is one of those practices that offers us so many gifts besides obvious health benefits and I've found that one of the greatest gifts I've received from yoga is the realization that yoga isn't just a practice, it's a way of living. I used to be one of those people that was obsessed with a hardcore workout- if I wasn't sweating and dying it wasn't working. However over the course of my own fitness journey I've found so much more within a yoga practice than I ever thought I could. I can almost equate it to an awesome therapy session- and those of you who have had the blessing of going to a great therapist, you definitely know what I mean. I often arrive with daily frustrations, to-do lists, and anxieties and ALWAYS leave feeling lighter, cleaner, more alive. The journey on the mat is directly proportionate to your jouney off the mat. The poses that you find difficult, annoying, impossible- you know the ones that really rub you the wrong way can actually teach you the most about yourself! Yoga offers you a chance to create space between yourself and any judgmental thoughts and a good teacher will remind students of this when the poses are difficult. Remove the self judgment and try it again and again. We are all students in yoga and in life. The way you face those challengers inside of a yoga class are a total metaphor for how you face challenges that surface in your life. Keep at it and you might experience some beautiful breakthroughs.
How has your practice changed your perspective? Tell us below.
Why I teach the way I teach
To teach in a way being true to my core values is very important to me. By nature, I am an empathic person and I enjoy sharing my passion for the yogic way of life. To be able to share this authentically and confidently, I indulge my thirst for knowledge because I love to learn.
When I began practicing yoga way back in 2001, it was all about the asana for me. I was very physically active and at the time, thought this was another great way of exercising. When my first son was small and after a period of being relatively sedentary, I discovered my joy of running. The revelation for me was that I didn’t do it for physical reasons such as getting fit or losing weight, I honestly really love it. Still do. I love the way I can lace up my trainers before daylight feeling like I want to go back to bed and within minutes of being out with the fresh air on my face, feel free and calm and happy. I find so much clarity here. I often refer to this feeling as my ‘yoga off the mat’.
Life has a way of nudging us in the direction of what we need to learn and in my case, I needed to listen to my body and slow down. Life told me this through the media of dodgy knees that needed operating on… My yoga practice had remained consistently casual and it was around this time that I really started to take more notice of it and to be aware that there was more.
My 200hr yoga teacher training course was my quest for that ‘something more’ and on completion, I knew I wanted to share what I had learned. My interest had always been anatomically based but a beautiful surprise for me was how much I adore the philosophical, ethical element of yoga. I show up to my own yoga mat as often as I can but if I can’t make it due to life having other plans, I no longer beat myself up about it. I understand that the way I choose to live my life and decisions I take every day are generally rooted in the captivating yamas and niyamas, once so complicated and baffling to me, yet now so beautifully simplistic.
I have had some wonderful yoga teachers and each one that I have had the pleasure of practicing with has gifted me with a different perspective on something. I continue to learn and grow.
My own style of teaching reflects my core values of empathy, knowledge, positivity, gratitude and love. I want to be able to share with complete authenticity. I believe people attend my sessions because I use my own voice, personality, humour and passion for anatomy and physiology. I want to empower those that share their practice with me to understand that it is their practice and that they are the experts of their own bodies and how the asana feels to them. I want to always approach my yoga classes with an attitude of gratitude. Sincerely, I am so humbled that people chose to spend their time, energy and money to come along to my classes each week. I am so grateful of the path I find myself on because I know I’ve put my whole heart into learning along the way. I feel blessed.
It is important to me that there are elements of philosophy included in my lessons as well as a focus to the practice of pranayama (sometimes referred to as breath work). In my own personal practice, chanting and mantra is very special and sometimes I include it in my classes; students have the option to join in or just relax and enjoy the sounds. The groups of children that I teach love letting go with a loud ‘Om’ – especially with the acoustics of the school sports hall! All are welcome to come along to my yoga classes; I have a commitment to myself that I only teach poses that I know well (my collection grows all the time!) so that I can offer modifications for those who want to take just a hint of or the full expression of a pose if it is available to them.
Self-care is not self-ish. Just as in my personal yoga practice, I allow myself permission to take a pause and a breath. I organise my yoga sessions on a six-week basis to coincide with school holidays because it can be physically demanding and having young children, I am becoming more and more aware of how quickly time passes and how quickly they grow! I respect that students also have family commitments and responsibilities and so I understand that we all return after a break feeling recharged and refreshed.
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