Beyond the Sweaty Betty school of yoga...
So, my first YogaBirth training weekend is in the bag and my head has only just about stopped spinning. There was a lot to take in! My fellow trainees are a lovely lot and after three days of being holed up in a yoga studio together we quickly clicked. I so love the company of interesting, motivated and inspiring women!
Highlights of the weekend for me included a 90 minute melt-into-your-mat yoga class lead by our course director Judy Cameron. Judy's yoga teaching is inspired by Vanda Scaravelli and she has trained with Sandra Sabatini and Janet Balaskas, the big hitters of the antenatal yoga world. Judy's class included a wonderful exercise during which we used textured balls to massage the souls of our feet before re-grounding ourselves. The effect was amazing and my balance improved hugely. We also had a fascinating lecture on the pelvis and its capabilities. Human biology was never my forte at school so I think I learned more in an hour and a half of yoga training than I ever did in two years of GSCE biology classes. Having a model pelvis to play with was also really useful and kinda fun (although my other half wasn't quite as impressed as I'd hoped when I later used it to demonstrate my new found anatomical knowledge at home....yes darling, it IS a model and not an actual pelvis #facepalm).
I came away from my first training weekend feeling massively motivated and completely daunted. There is so much to now do including a mountain of reading and a daily reflective diary. I've also got a yoga portfolio to begin compiling and a whole lot of flexibility to develop! Watching my amazing tutors ease their bodies gracefully into incredible poses was nothing short of mind-blowing. One of the discussion topics from the weekend has been replaying in my mind since actually: what does a yoga teacher look like? In the social media world of Instagram and YouTube, I've often been led to believe that a yoga teacher is an impossibly lithe, Sweaty Betty clad pixie of a person who can take a selfie in crow pose (and BTW, does anyone ever really do headstands in front of the Grand Canyon or is that clever photoshopping?) But after a weekend spent with a wonderfully diverse group of women of all shapes, sizes and ages I've been reminded of the fact that you don't need to 'look' like a yoga teacher to be a yoga teacher. Yoga is about coming out of your head and embracing your body, whatever that body may be. And a yoga teacher's job is to guide, support and inspire. If we are left intimidated or feeling inadequate by our role models or a preconceived idea of what yoga should look and be like, we're limiting not only our ability to practice yoga effectively but to embrace it fully. So I'd urge everyone to grab a mat, take a slow, gentle, cleansing in-breath and define yoga in your own terms.