The power of a peaceful practice. By Louisa Flynn
Reading time: 4 minutes
As someone who loves to consider the spiritual side of yoga, I tend to gravitate toward teachers and classes taught by deep thinkers; people who beautifully weave words and meaning with their choice of asana. Creating soothing guidance in and throughout the practice. Leaving me touched and inspired, on so many levels.
When I teach, I know that I tend to do so drawing from various sources of yogic thought and philosophy. Making the sort of yogic trifle that I would love to dive into. However, recently, I randomly attended a free yoga class. I had no idea who the teacher was going to be, nor their style or path, nor their influences. The flyer simply said: Free Yoga. And so, I went along with an open mind, grateful for the free guided practice.
At the start, it became immediately obvious that there was no theme, and just as I was getting my head around the fact that it would likely be a more physical practice (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that), as opposed to a more reflective practice – something I thought I needed to help me make sense of things that had been going on in my life — the teacher asked us to start in Savasana. Something I love to do. Something I love when other teachers invite me to do. I had mistakenly attributed the teacher’s lack of talk to a more physically-focused class, and I could not have been more wrong.
Given minimal directions, we were asked to lie down on the ground and connect to our breath. And boom! There it was. Yoga. It was utterly magical, and the teacher barely spoke. Giving straightforward and uncluttered directions, with space around the words that they spoke, yoga was able to fill in the gaps.
For an hour, my practice was incredibly clear and light, and I experienced myself in an entirely new way. On reflection, things had been getting very loaded in my life. My mind had been particularly busy, and my practice, as ever, had been the anchor that kept me grounded. However, until this moment, I wasn’t aware just how much I craved, and needed, the free openness that yoga can also provide.
Despite my years of practice, I had forgotten. This experience served as a reminder for me to not forget how yoga casts its own spell — no matter what we, as teachers, say, or don’t say — and that there are times when the offering has very little to do with us.
Yes, a teacher can affect the vibe within a class and there is nothing quite like a knowledgeable teacher holding the space. But, also, there is huge value in being quiet and holding the space in a silent way. Because, by doing so, we allow others (albeit more often experienced practitioners than beginners, who may feel a little lost in silence) the opportunity to experience themselves, just as they are, and to experience yoga, just as they may need.