Since 2012 I’ve written a monthly column and the odd feature for OM Yoga Magazine. This column was originally published in the November 2012 issue:
Each month I write for OM Yoga Magazine - here is my column from November 2012
A mild thoracic curve means my chaturanga can look slightly lopsided. However, I only noticed this after observation in a mirror and working one-to-one with a teacher. X-rays and scans confirmed mild scoliosis
as well as spondylolisthesis, so the wonky chaturanga then made sense. Not long ago I had the experience of being in a workshop where an advanced teacher tried to (literally) wrench my shoulder up and back in chaturanga to straighten me out, despite my explanation of my physical imbalances. Instead of listening, he stared at me blankly and said, “You’re not doing it right”.
These experiences greatly inform how I approach teaching. They also remind me what an honour and privilege and responsibility it is. If I were less confident, that experience with the advanced teacher would have upset me. (Let’s save the ‘what is advanced?’ discussion for another time!) I like to remember the words of Judith Lasater who I studied with earlier this year. During training, one of the many things she said that stuck with me in regard to yoga asana is that there is no right or wrong – there is only safe. It’s important that we do our best to be safe in our postures.
I enjoy one-to-one yoga sessions a lot. Each person I guide through practice teaches me something. Every body is different. There is no perfect yoga pose. One of the things I love about working one-to-one is being able to guide someone to finding the expression of a posture that works best for them. Together we can take more time to get back to basics, break down poses and tailor their practice. My hope is that within this the yogi comes to experience that the practice they are developing is about more than touching their toes. When a client told me she had practised a couple of poses on her own at home because she liked how they made her feel afterwards I was delighted. Delighted that she felt confident enough to do some asana practice on her own and that she was finding her own unique experience of yoga that went beyond where to place her feet in trikonasana. Even better that this was for her self-care and not to please the teacher.
Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher (www.ucanyoga.co.uk) – if you are in London and interested in 1-2-1 or Small Group Private Yoga, please click here for details.
If you’d like to read a selection of my past OM Yoga Magazine columns and a FREE 24 page preview of the latest issue at my U Can Yoga website, please click here.
My philosophy behind U Can Yoga from day one has been and remains that you can find your own expression of yoga – that yoga is for anyone who wants to give it a try and experience its many benefits, so I’m honoured to be included in body positive issue of Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine featuring and celebrating women of all body types. Also featured in this issue: Gay Love, Yoga for Cocaine Addiction, Cancer Thrivers, India, Haiti, Dropping Judgment and 145+ Yogis changing the planet. Readers in the USA can pick up this new, exciting publication on newsstands and at these retail outlets now. UK readers, unfortunately Mantra isn’t on sale over here (yet!) but you can check out the page from the feature by scrolling down to the bottom of this blog post and read articles at the Mantra website by clicking here: mantramag.com
This ties in with the subject of my April OM Yoga Magazine Teacher’s Tales column ‘What is a Yoga Body & What Does A Yoga Teacher Look like?’ which seemed to strike a chord with a lot of readers. If you didn’t see it, you can read it here.
Mantra Yoga and Health - My Real Yoga Body feature
This article was originally published in the May 2013 issue of OM Yoga Magazine where each month write the ‘Carry on Teacher’ column. You can find more of my previous columns here on my website where you can also download a free 21 pg preview of the July/Aug 2013 issue.
A Friendly Universe
Hooray! The noticeably longer days are here and summer is on the way. It feels like a time packed with promise and new possibilities. And it’s not just me – all around it seems as though this month is about new projects, new phases and broadening horizons. It’s exciting times as lots of people are embarking on the new, whether that’s travel, business ventures, relationships, parenthood and much more.
For me, it’s a case of the new both at home and away. I’m excited to be the guest teacher on a yoga holiday in Montenegro on the Adriatic coast. It’s my first time teaching on a retreat outside the UK and I’m thrilled to have been invited by Alan Sweetingham to take part in his yoga holiday this month.
Closer to home, I’ve been teaching at a brand new space called L!FE Shoreditch on London’s Brick Lane. With its combination of a yoga, a whole food café, and music all under one roof it’s an exciting place to be in a part of town that’s close to my heart having studied for my degree in the area.
What new things are you facing now? If you’re anything like me there may be a few nerves, or a little fear of the unknown, even if (or sometimes, especially if) it’s something you want to do. In those instances you may form a strong desire for things to turn out exactly as you wish or the mind may zip into trouble-shooting mode in an attempt to control outcome. If I ever feel this way I remind myself to let go of the outcome. If I get too wrapped up to remind myself then something external tends to do that for me! Whenever I let go, a sense of calm and acceptance arises. Whether yoga philosophy is your bag or not, as yoga practitioners there is undoubtedly something about this practice that cultivates awareness which opens up the capacity to take a step back. The brilliant Albert Einstein said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe in a friendly or hostile universe.” Go into whatever is ahead of you with an open heart, do the best you can with what you have and surrender the outcome. If you are able to do this, don’t be surprised to see the universe become that bit more friendly as a result.