Yoga Style Guide Table of Contents
Yoga Style Guide is a series consisting of 3 parts.
So, you’ve tried on Power Vinyasa Yoga and did a lot of “high to low push-ups” getting all sweaty, detoxifying the body as the teachers says.
You dabbled into Prana Flow Yoga and found some fluid flow in your body, moving in ways you didn’t think could be shared publicly. Wildly but with direct mindful intention, you flapped your arms from side-to-side vigorously while syncing your breath in Kundalini Yoga.
Now, after the long journey, or for some shorter, you found a few styles that really speak to you. In fact, one of them really resonates so well that you begin to take it more than two days a week! You did your homework and narrowed down some fields of yoga and you are ecstatic. It’s been a couple of months now and you’ve gone to several different teachers in that style of yoga you’ve chosen, but you want to know more.
You feel the desire to look deeper into the practice and listen to your body, and explore the spaces of your mind, learning and wisely accepting yourself and your practice. You keep a keen eye and ear out for all your teachers currently teaching in the style of yoga you have chosen. Some you feel more connected to than the other. How do you find a teacher that will help you further deepen into your practice?
1. Try them out.
Just like finding a personal trainer, a pilates instructor, a tennis coach or voice coach, how do you know which one is right for you? You try them out. You may do some research on their background, where they studied, their certification for teaching, what their trainings are like, their tone of voice, observe how they communicate the material, etc. Are they leading from a place of knowledge and personal experience?
As you learn them, they learn you and soon you decide if its a good fit. In a sense, you are building a relationship with your teacher. He or she, over time and with dedicated practice, will begin to see how you move in your body. They will observe when you want to check out and may even notice it before you do. So, like with all relationships, it is important to see if the puzzle pieces fit and honor the ups and downs of the journey.
2. Meet and greet.
Because the student/teacher relationship is usually designed around a classroom setting in yoga, it can be a little more challenging to meet and really “get to know” one another. Most of us start out in a classroom setting rather than an individual private yoga session. However, there are a few who do the reverse. Either way, it is not as if you get to have a full sit down “tea and cookies conversation” with your new yoga teacher at the beginning of each class. Can you imagine what that would be like? A room of 20 students waiting their turn; that would become the entirety of the class.
Therefore, typically, you arrive, maybe introduce yourself, or the teacher introduces her or himself. Often, if you are new, the teacher will want to learn a little about you, understanding your background in yoga, any previous injuries and/or medical conditions. They might ask you a few simple questions and then off you go, into that breathing called Ujjaii, where at first try, you might have felt like a Darth Vader wanna-be when you tried it out.
3. Take the time.
Like trying on a new pair of hiking boots for a three-week Trek, you really want to make sure they fit well. So even in your yoga practice, attend several classes from the same teacher. Try her or him on, but do so with an intention to learn and absorb. Going into anything in our lives with a pre-existing judgement does not leave room for growth; it rather closes us off from prosperity!
Also, enjoy the ride of feeling the unknown and trying on new things. Over time, you will begin to understand the teacher’s rhythm, his or her flow, their voice inflictions, music choice or lack thereof, and even see insight into their own personal yoga practice.
4. Your teacher is a human.
Surprise. Did you forget? Don’t’ feel bad, I thought my first yoga teacher for years had superpowers. Often times we can put our teachers, not just in yoga, but in life on a pedestal. Especially when we are first beginning anything in our lives, we seek out the “masters” of such a subject and can easily begin the dangerous and un-serving cycle of comparing ourselves to them and to others. My suggestion to you is to remember that your teacher is human, living a life similar to yours. He wakes, he eats, he probably has another job because making it just as a yoga teacher is a bit hard, he may have a family with kids, he has probably lost an animal or loved one dear to him just like you once, he has stressors too and guess what, he is completely capable of having bad days (yes, those exists for us yoga teachers)!
So as you are trying on different teachers, not only recognize that they are human, but also see if they can tie in their real life circumstances into the flow of the practice. Yoga teaches us to observe, practice non-attachment, to let go and to ultimately accept. If your human yoga teacher can share these experiences with you during the practice, you’ve found a keeper! Just make sure that the class doesn’t turn into your teacher’s cathartic psychotherapy session; that is not a good thing for anyone. A little bit can go along way.
5. Trust your inner guru.
Whether you know it yet or not, you are your own teacher! Look at a yoga teacher as a guide rather than the ultimate being. Your yoga teacher has studied in depth the philosophies, anatomy, kinesiology, and probably even the 8-limbed path of the yoga tradition, therefore he or she can translate and communicate to you the how and why’s. However, we must each honor and respect that every teacher is and will always be a student of life too. Your inner guru, your inner teacher, already holds so many answers.
Yoga teaches us to swim through the mind, seeing more vividly what is an obstacle of resistance. As we witness these obstacles, we get a choice and if we choose to set it aside, we are able to swim freely to those answers. The more we clear the path, we focus on our destination of the present moment, this moment, now, the more the inner guru shines bright And, hey, we all want to shine, right?!
Stay tuned for Kristina’s next article on “What’s a Yogi and The Signs You May Be One!”
Kristina Kuzmich, born and raised in the Midwest, first found Colorado through Naropa University in 2004, and instantly called it “home.” Kristina is a 200 E-RYT and a Licensed Massage Therapist residing in the Vail Valley, and is the founder and owner of Mindful Evolution Yoga. She is the Yoga Director for the Aria Yoga Program at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa, the only certified SmartFLOW © Yoga Teacher in Colorado and is proud to be a yoga ambassador for lululemon athletica and Manduka. A lover of dark chocolate and mate tea, an avid hiker, snowboarder, writer and community worker, she insists on traveling the globe in her diligent pursuit of perpetual growth. She is a junkie to the card game, Rummy, and while not shy to share her obsession for fairy tales, particularly devouring up The Brother’s Grimm, Kristina has an exploratory skill in creating meals in the kitchen. She isn’t afraid to dabble into her favorite styles of wine (all things French), share her opinions when asked, and will continually practice seeking the truth and finding clarity, though the wine may cloud that at times.
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