Yoga has become more commonly accepted, but some misconceptions still cause some people to reject it. In this blog I will try to clear up these misconceptions!
People often cite these two reasons for why yoga isn’t their thing:
- I am too stiff
- I am not the type of person that likes to sit around and do ‘zen things’. I don’t know how to find the peace in my body.
Both of them are misconceptions about yoga. The first one I already thoroughly discussed. The second one is linked to a very important choice in yoga: your teacher and the style of yoga.
Yoga is a collector name for many different approaches to how to connect your mind, body and spirit. In the past decades many different styles have been developed. Some became more popular and others are more low key and unknown. Finding the style that fits you is essential to your enjoyment of yoga.
The common ones you will come across often are Hatha Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Iyengar yoga, Asthanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and Yin Yoga. If you want to know more about the different styles, there is a perfect description of them on this website.
So how to pick your style, school and teacher? I see 5 steps to find your style:
- First think why you want to do yoga, or why you are doing yoga. What is it you want to achieve with it? This will help you to eliminate a few styles.
- How do you want to practice? Big group? Smaller group? Private? This will help you find a school and / or teacher.
- Ask your friends who practice what style they do, which school and teacher they go to. Let them explain why they like it.
- Make a selection of 5 schools and teachers and go there to try out different styles, teacher and schools. Where do you feel most comfortable? Where can you find what you want to reach in yoga?
- Start your practice as many times per week or month as you want. Find the right pace to ensure you enjoy your yoga and get the most out of it.
It sounds like a logical process but often people get stuck with one teacher and style because it is taught at your gym or work. I know many people that quit their classes, because they weren’t sure it was what they wanted. My belief is that you just haven’t found your style or teacher yet! Keep on looking, because you will feel it when you have found it.
Yoga in the park
To me yoga is very much connected to the teachers’ style and skills. A teacher can make or break my class. When I got into practicing yoga on a more serious level, I spent quite some time trying to find my perfect teacher. And that is not easy. I went to several schools in Amsterdam, I tried different teachers to finally settle with one: Martyn Hoogstra. A very skilled yogi, who has years of teaching experience, is a walking philosophy encyclopedia and whose class has a high energy level. I loved it, every single class! Even if I didn’t feel good before, I always felt great after the class. He has been my yoga inspiration, he started my yoga flame and I can still hear him in my mind during my practice. So what made him my perfect teacher?
- He was strict but gentle
- His classes had a repetition with a twist
- He was able to share his knowledge in a understandable language
- He offered more than just a class by organising Master Classes and yoga intensives
- His classes made me feel like I had a workout, and it still allowed me to go home feeling absolutely relaxed and chilled.
When I moved to Brasil I was sad to leave Martyn, who at his turn gave me great advice. He explained to me that after having learned from each other, it is sometimes time to move on and start learning new things, because every great teacher will be able to help you move forward on your yoga path. So there I went, off to Sao Paulo, looking for the perfect new teacher. After the same type of search I found one: Beta Arruga. A young and incredibly skilled yoga teacher, who builds amazing sequences, shares her knowledge and has an open personality. Her classes gave me new insights, about how to improve my postures, how to build a sequence, how to motivate people and what influence good music has on a class. When I asked her for advice on my yoga journey she didn’t hesitate to help me out and make time to answer all my questions, or even take me to her private clients to see for myself. She has been my inspiration to leave my corporate job and choose a yogic life. So why is she my perfect teacher?
- She is intelligent, kind and firm at the same time
- Her sequences have a repetition with a twist
- She can share her knowledge in an easy way without it being fluffy
- She can make you sweat and still make you walk away completely relaxed.
- She is not afraid to be close to her students, both physically and mentally.
- She uses an amazing playlist, not the fluffy type of yoga music.
- She uses a theme every class and shares this with her students on Facebook and Instagram.
So what does this teach me? I found two amazing teachers, with qualities I like. They have their similarity and differences. My key lesson is that as a teacher you attract the students that are ready for you. And since each teacher is different with their own style, there are students for every single one. This idea gives me the faith and courage to let go of my mask and teach classes the way I am myself and the way I like to be taught:
- Physically strong classes with a cool down to make sure people go home relaxed and ready for their day or bed.
- Repetitive challenging sequences with a twist
- Share my knowledge in an understandable way
- Be strict but gentle
- Offer more than just my standard classes, organise workshops & retreats
- Be close to my students, both physically and mentally
- Have a playlist that I love to listen to
- Use Facebook and Instagram to promote my work with my students and followers.
My tip on how to find your perfect yoga teacher is to explore. Do not settle with the first one you go to. What you can learn from yoga and how your flame is lit is dependent on your teacher. So go to a class, see what you like and do not like. Go to at least 4 more and compare. Then chose one and try to stick with that person for a while. Time will tell when your roads have to go separate ways again. Never be sad about it, continue growing and maintain contact. You never know when it is time to exchange knowledge again.