Yoga blog High Wycombe

Vinyasa Flow Immersion Part II: Going Deeper

In November 2018, 15th – 18th, I attended Vinyasa Immersion Part 2 for Yoga Teachers with Mimi Kuo-Deemer. Unlike the first part, which took place at Triyoga Camden in London, this training was conducted in a form of a residential course in the beautiful Poundon House in Oxfordshire. There was twenty of us altogether, all of us having completed Mimi’s first immersion at some point, and it was a yoga immersion in a proper sense. We would start each day with a 90min long session of Qiqong, Pranayama and Meditation, followed by breakfast, the morning session ran between 10am and 1pm, followed by lunch, then a shortish break, an afternoon session from 3.30pm till 6.30pm, followed by dinner, and at 8pm we would get together for ‘evening Satsang’.

Being able to get away from one’s day-to-day routine is a luxury; leave all joys, pressures, and mundane tasks of one’s ordinary life behind and have four precious days in a beautiful countryside, with a group of strangers who you quickly get to know quite intimately. You sleep, you eat, you practice yoga, you talk yoga, and everything else is taken care of for you. But it doesn’t just happen, it still requires organisation and rules need to be followed. And there were rules we had to obey; my favourite was observing silence between 10pm and 10am every day: you go to bed and the house is quiet, you wake up in the morning and have a good few hours to truly experience everything perceived by your senses without unnecessary chatter around you. Mimi held the space for us beautifully and made each practice, each day flow seamlessly.  

The evening Satsang, although physically the easiest part of the day, was for me probably the hardest part of each day.

‘Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means "gathering together for the truth" or, more simply, "being with the truth." Truth is what is real, what exists. So all there is, is Truth. Whenever something increases your experience of the Truth, it opens your Heart and quiets your mind.’

These evening sessions were there for us to go deeper; to let go of our defence walls, and unpick who we are as yoga teachers, the things we are critical about and compassionate about when we teach, and what it is we want to share with and pass on to our students.

These four days were intense, both physically and mentally, but it was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed and will never forget. Mimi is The Teacher I respect and admire.

Om saha navavatu

Saha nau bhunaktu

Saha viryam karavavahai

Tejasi navadhitam astu

Ma vidvishavahai

Om shanti, shanti, shanti

1.1 atha yoganusasanam

Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is one of the most important classical texts of Eastern and world thougth on yoga and the very first sutra reads 'atha yoganusasanam', which loosely translates as ' Now, the Teaching of Yoga.' A simple statement, from which the whole text emerges.

The word atha means 'now', and in this case it refers to the present moment, to the here and now. According to Richard Freeman, beginning the Yoga Sutra with the word now implies that we have already tried everything else we can think of as a means of relieving suffering - we have tried sex, drugs, and rock and roll, religion, piety, and self-improvement seminars. None of this has truly worked, so now we are finally ready to investigate the root cause of suffering and to explore the methods and the path for eliminating suffering. 

New Class Starting

I started teaching regular yoga classes back in January 2018 so only 6 months ago and yet, it feels much longer than that. Not because I’m such a wonderful teacher who turns up for a class and makes up a sequence there and then, adding some bits of wisdom between poses, but because teaching yoga feels natural and I very much enjoy it.

I love the space where I have been teaching for the past half a year – a small yoga studio in the heart of Bourne End in Buckinghamshire - and I have managed to acquire a small group of regular students, some of whom have been coming from day one while others joined just a few weeks ago.

I still put a lot of time and effort into preparation of each class, but it does pay off. Sitting and talking in front of a number of people who have paid to be there with me does no longer feel intimidating but exhilarating. I do admit, some classes have a better feel to them and I leave, feeling completely satisfied, and then there are classes, after which I do wonder why I have ever taken up teaching at all. But yoga is a life-long journey and the same can be said about teaching it. I continue to be a diligent student myself and I always make sure that I have things to share with my students to whom I’m eternally grateful for supporting me in my quest and my dream to be a good (enough) teacher.

I have been thinking about setting up another class for a while now, but there is much more to it than just finding the right venue and attracting enough students. Many newly qualified yoga teachers start by covering for other teachers in their local gyms or even yoga studios if they are lucky, hoping to be given a regular class to teach one day.

I have covered for other teachers myself, which has been invaluable experience, and to my utter delight I have just agreed to take on maternity cover for the lovely Yogi Julie.

As of 21st June 2018, I will be teaching another regular class every Thursday from 18.30 to 20.00 in Micklefield Library, Micklefield Road, High Wycombe, HP13 7HU. Please come and join me!

Stephanie Snyder: One of My Favourite Yoga Teachers

We all tend to gravitate towards certain people in life. I am not talking about physical attraction, but this kind of inner appeal, which not always can we put a finger on. There is something about these people that resonates with us and we instantly feel better in their presence. And this is even more true about yoga teachers. Yes, we can go to a particular class because there is a yoga studio around the corner from our house or its time slot suits us. However, that’s barely ever the case. We usually try a few different classes, different yoga styles, and before we know it, there is a yoga teacher whose class we keep coming back to and whose class we don’t want to miss.

Since I started practicing yoga I have found only a handful of such teachers and Stephanie Snyder is definitely one of them. Stephanie is a San Francisco-based yoga teacher who have been teaching yoga since 2000; she teaches workshops, trainings and retreats internationally, and is an industry festival and conference presenter. Stephanie comes and teaches in London once a year, usually a whole series of weekend workshops.

I first signed up for her workshops at Triyoga Studio in London four years ago, not really knowing who she was, but back then the description of her strong Vinyasa Flow practice appealed to me. Like anyone else I do tend to feel apprehensive when I don’t know what to expect, but those feelings dissipated within 15min or so of her very first workshop. From day one I have found Stephanie down-to-earth, warm, and funny; her storytelling compelling and thought-provoking, her asana practice strong yet methodical; her sequencing logical and when she chants I have goose bumps all over.

I have since attended every single workshop she has taught in the UK, I have signed up to her newsletter and I enjoy her online classes on yogaglo.com.

Over the past weekend I attended four of Stephanie’s workshops at Triyoga Camden under the title ‘Becoming Whole + Mending the Chaos Gap’. She used the term ‘chaos gap’ to describe a gap between our inner spiritual world and the outside material world, from which most of human confusion and suffering arise. I have learnt and taken a lot from her workshops, but one of the main things for me was the reminder that there is an ’unstruck and untouched’ place within all of us, to which we need to stay connected at all times. And the only way to find and be able to return to this place of quiet peace and steadiness is only through regular and consistent practice of asana, pranayama, mantra and meditation.

Flow Through Any Difficult Emotion

I’ve just completed this seven day online yoga programme called ‘Flow Through Any Difficult Emotion’ led by Jo Tastula.

Seven days, seven classes, seven emotions to tackle through yoga practice.

We all have our own unique ways to deal with emotions such as anger, sadness or anxiety, but more often than not we don’t even allow ourselves to attend to these emotions. We ignore them, we neglect them, we push them away; sometimes we even berate ourselves for experiencing negative emotions. But as an old saying goes ‘what you resist persists!’.

Yoga teaches us to welcome difficult and unpleasant feelings; to be with them without trying to change them, make them better, or resolve them. As we move through our practice, we should learn to let these feeling arise, allowing them to be what they are without analysing or judging. If we manage to do so, if stay open without an urge to react, we become more accepting towards ourselves as well as others. 

My favourite quote from the programme: ‘You are capable of holding yourself; and you’re the best person to do it. Nothing that comes from inside is ever going to be too much.’

And as Max Strom says: ‘Happiness is a choice. It’s getting a handle on our emotions within a situation, remembering that circumstances are often beyond our control, but our emotions are our own. We only need to practice our state of mind; that’s beginning of happiness.’

“Yoga does not change the way we see things; it transforms the person who sees.” B K S Iyengar