VINYĀSA 108: A SACRED EXPERIENCE OF CONSCIOUS PLACEMENT.
‘VI’ = order.
‘NYĀSA’ = placement, consciously.
Conscious order // Conscious placement.
This post speaks to the power of choice, routine, commitment and community:
For so many of us, the experience of lockdown has been one of great challenge.
During the recent Sydney lockdown, it was the conscious placement into a teacher training that carried me through…
Halfway through 2021 (the exact dates blurred into irrelevance), The City of Sydney entered high level lockdown, right around the same time that a teacher training, hotly anticipated by me, was due to take place at Sydney’s yogic gem, KRAMA yoga.
We were two facilitators, six students, all hopeful that it would be a short few weeks until we would be back at the school. The intense studies into scripture, āsana, anatomy, philosophy, sequencing and breath are really intended for an in-person experience. The truth that would come to pass, however, said differently.
This group of eight humans of varying ages, backgrounds and skillsets, all making a conscious choice to log in every weekend throughout lockdown. Consciously placing ourselves in front of each other. Being honest with each other, telling our truth.
Each time one of us was real, the subtlest yet unquestionable trail of permission was left for the next person to find and follow.
Whilst each of us shifted between moments of both battle and cruise individually, our coming together reminded me of the power of the collective.
I was honest from the get go: My challenge has been one of avoidance for fear of ‘not being good enough’ to teach…despite over 20 years of practice.
Those past years were a journey of coming in and out of practice. Each time I fell out, life became wonky, impossible. Impassable, in truth. Those were the times I became distracted by something (or someone) shiny and alluring. Whatever, whoever, whichever had me distracted was always external to me. It was the avoidance of looking inward with any great depth. In those distractions, non-commitment to routine became inevitable.
Yoga was so much more than just a physical practice, although as for many this is where the journey begins – in the body. Mine began at the age of 19, in a gym in Covent Garden. It would take all the years since, (and maybe more than this lifetime will afford me) in order to feel the full gravity of this practice.
The tears that flowed out of me at the end of that first practice were of release rather than sadness. Those tears were not just my own – they were the tears of generation upon generation of us that have struggled and battled through life.
This practice of yoga – of uniting, of threading together – is the healthiest, most heartfelt and integrated mechanism for coping with this thing called life. When the seams of my old life finally fell apart (FINALLY – a sweet agony of release from torture), yoga was both my destination and truth-teller. It was my way of getting real. I RAN to India, wanting to expand my teaching skills into yoga.
That first teaching qualification came back in 2016, a very different experience to this, first in the Himalayas, and then down in Varkala, having worked my way down the entire length of the country. The vividness of colours, smells, textures and sounds made it rich and intoxicating (by comparison to the ‘normalness’ of my white, minimalist apartment and computer screen of this recent training).
Even certified, there still remained a huge amount of fear, nerves and avoidance. A heavy belief of not being ‘qualified enough’ that had permeated so much of my life was also present in this teaching, despite being a swimming and group cycle instructor for decades.
I dodged away from many opportunities to teach. Kept flying to new countries. Kept making excuses. It had been a mantra for life, and so became a mantra for teaching yoga too. Don’t commit. Don’t be ‘seen’.
‘You will, dear boy, fuck it up, royally‘…that tired old mantra of a less-than-resourceful inner voice whirred away again and again.
See the truth is that the deeper we go into the practice of yoga, the less bullshit we can convince ourselves of. And THAT is the fear in teaching. Warts and all – there is a lot to hold together. Gifting any ‘wonkiness’ or inner workings to a student is simply unfair.
It’s only after committing to a life in Sydney, a far departure from my old way of being, in so many more ways than one, that things really started to shift.
VINYĀSA: Conscious order // Conscious placement.
I’d heard the Sanskrit word thousands of times, with no grounding as to what it actually meant. Even after 10 years of practice, back when I took class purely for those physical benefits, I even pronounced the word ‘Sanscript’ thinking it somehow related to the font one might find in Microsoft Word.
Conscious order. Conscious placement. I consciously placed myself in this group of humans every weekend, without fail. It was that showing up that carried me through the lockdown, to this point, of finally feeling ready to teach without forcefulness, or the need to talk myself into it.
See, I always got this word practice muddled with performance. For me, it always felt like I was PERFORMING. I may not be the only person on the planet to have had the same experience.
It is ironically a practice, to see the practice in every moment of every day, rather than this distorted need for constant performance we seem to be so obsessed with today. In performance, we create the need for perfection. We are hooked on grades, numbers, KPI’s and metrics. We are so habituated in comparison, that we are en-tranced into believing that our humanity is less than beyond comparison.
We are so habituated in comparison, that we are en-tranced into believing that our humanity is less than beyond comparison.
In practice, we can learn from each of these moments. In practice, we can cultivate patience. Permission. Perseverance. Process. In practice, we are students to our own experience.
As students, we learn from our teachers. As teachers, we learn from our students. We consciously place each other in each other’s space, to lead a practice and at the same time, follow a call for a more easeful existence.
You may or may not know that the word PERFORMANCE is at an intersection of the BODY // MIND // FLOW program that I’ve spent the last five years in conscious placement with. That word is consciously placed, not presupposing that any form of performance can come without practice.
Practice is the essential component, the only way to approach each showing up.
To be in the practice of flow, and conscious placement, as a way of living, is a gift.
The number 108, by the way, is an important number in yogic philosophy, and a sacred number in the Hindu faith (more on that in a future post):
Can there be a coincidence that the training came to a close on the 108th day of lockdown?
The practice of teaching has finally become routine for me, both online and in three of Sydney’s most respected studios.
Conscious placement: As with yoga, so with life.
Conscious placement: Choice, routine, commitment and community. What are you doing with yours?
So deeply grateful.
Humblest of thank you’s to my fellow students, Kate M, Kate SB, Lu, Pat, SJ, and of course our guides, Doug + Sandy.