What made you decide to become a yoga teacher?
RS: I initially embarked upon a training course simply to improve my own practice and enhance my own knowledge. However, at the end of the course, the idea of sharing this with others gave me such a sense of satisfaction that I couldn’t help but teach! I gained immense satisfaction from helping students find a way to feel grounded, present and help them see meaningful change amongst all the physical and emotional needs.
Some people criticise the way yoga is taught in the west as the focus is perceived to be a purely physical practice, ignoring any of the wider aspects of yoga. What is your view on this?
From the moment you step on the mat, you are at the beginning of your journey. Just making the commitment to get on your mat every day cultivates the values of discipline and cleanliness. For me yoga started off as a means to good physical health, stress relief and flexibility. BKS Iyengar came to yoga to gain good health – in his words ‘ Unless freedom is gained in the body, freedom in the mind is a far cry.’
After practicing for only a few months, I felt less tired and the frequency of minor ailments reduced. The most astonishing impact was on my mind. I was calmer and at ease – a state of mind that enabled me to more easily practice the timeless values of Satya (truthfulness), Santosha (Contentment) and Svadhyaya (Study of One’s Self). For me the asana practice lead me to explore yoga as a way of life – simple food, a simple daily routine and most of all, simple thinking.
So that brings me nicely onto how Yoga has had an impact on you?
RS: The greatest thing about yoga for me is the mind-body connection. For example, the use of a ‘drishti’ or gaze point in yoga enables you to hold a balancing posture for longer. Simultaneously you are training the mind to be still and preparing the body for meditation and the practice of stillness.
Practicing yoga has transformed my life. It has given me a whole new perspective, provided me with clarity of mind and a sense of underlying peace and contentment. The benefits that have followed from my practice have improved all aspects of my life – whether it is my relationship with others, my productivity at work and my ability to deal with stress and pressure.
What initially started as a physical (asana) practice has now evolved into a path of discovery and learning.
What practical advice would you give to someone interested?
- Buy a Yoga Mat
- Find a teacher. You may need to try a few different teachers/styles to see what works best for you.
- Honour your body throughout the practice.
- Stick with it to feel the benefits. In the words of a Sri K Pattabi Jois – “Practice and all is coming”