Many assumptions are made about yoga teachers. One is that daily practice is something that we just love to do. In my case this is true for about 9 months out of 12 but check me out in the heart of winter and let’s just say that my Magic 10 is more like Mundane 6 and that my asana is more like half asana. I always get up before 6, yet somehow manage to put the coffee on sometime between the warm up and sun salutes. Once I even attempted to practice in a snuggie. Go figure.
Turns out Carmen my cousin and director of Lila yoga had the same shocking yoga teacher confession: during winter, morning practice can be challenging. So we came up with this idea: Monday to Friday in July and August we would rock up to the studio 545am and bust the Jivamukti Spiritual Warrior class to a recording gifted by our friend Sandy King. A week before the 1st of July I was gung ho and ready to go. But the Sunday before, after having taught 3 classes, I was feeling a little less inspired.
‘Carmen, how bout we start a little later?’ And I meant a later month not a later time.
‘We can’t! It’s on the website, about 8 other people will be joining us!’
My heart seized up. Shit just got real. We had to show up!
The first week went like this: We were at the studio before dawn. Three days in I arrived in a bad mood which was miraculously lifted by the sun arriving after savasana. But by the end of the week I was like a blank canvas; showing up with no feeling at all but thinking ‘this is just how it is’.
Several weeks later I could feel the subtle shift in my morning mood. I looked forward to hearing Sandy’s sweet voice – including the same jokes! – and I felt myself smiling whilst rocking the sequence. At one point I created my own recording but the punters preferred Sandy’s as did I. Somedays it was so cold that it was just me and Carmen and on these days we’d do the class with no instruction. But we did it. It wasn’t always easy, particularly when Carmen was detoxing. On those days I felt like she was trying to eat her own breath and wanting to eat my iPod. But we still showed up for each other and for the students. And it always set my day up right. I felt like I achieved something before the day even began to reveal itself.
I worked a few other things out during the forty days:
1) With practice we can remove all obstacles and excuses including sickness and injury. I’ve had this knee thing for almost two decades and it reminds me it’s there in cold weather. At one point it was so cold that my nose could have run the City to Surf. But still rolled my mat out, hanky to the side, knee in a brace.
2) Practicing the same class daily is far from boring: you get to subtlety refine things and address where tightness has been occurring. ‘Through repetition, magic arises’ – Sharon Gannon
3) Whether you are opening the studio for dawn practice or are practicing in a led class or are at home by yourself you are always showing up for someone else. Maybe it’s for someone who is too sick or cold to come, maybe it’s for the beautiful animals who inspire the shapes we make. Whatever the case; it’s bigger than all of us put together and therefore worth rolling out that tired old mat just one more time…
NB Many of us Jiva teachers think of the Spiritual Warrior class (created by Sharon Gannon) as our version of the Primary Series. Along with Sharon and David Life’s ‘Backbending Class’ and ‘Balance Class’, we derive a lot of inspiration from this set sequence which can be practiced ‘live’ at any Jivamukti centre in the world.