Friday, October 28, 2011

Eloquence is for losers!

OK so am I alone or do any of you out there start a sentence and then have no idea how you are going to finish it without sounding like a complete loser or that perhaps English is your second language?!
I do it all the time, which wouldn't be so bad if it happened when I was at home chatting to my family or in the pub gossiping with my friends. Of course it only happens when I am teaching a class. And the illusion is shattered! I am not in fact an eloquent serene goddess who glides through life on a cloud, I am in reality a gibbering idiot who couldn't string a sentence together if her life depended on it.

I hate that my cover is so regularly blown!

As a yoga teacher you pretty much have to talk for an hour straight. Now we are not the only people who have this pressure, many business types have to make long presentations, comedians have to be humorous for extended periods, actors, public speakers, politicians, but the difference is that they have learnt by heart what they have to say. I am just winging it!!

Take The President of the United States, when did you last hear him stumble over a sentence? A health reform, maybe, but a sentence, never!

Now I don't mean, I have no idea what I am talking about because I am a bit of a boffin and genuinely do my homework on anatomy and alignment and philosophy but I don't rehearse my lines. I put a sequence together, I know the relevant info about the postures but I don't stick to a script. Maybe that's why there is often a "...and now send that stretch right out through both sides of!" or "Take your weight towards the ball of your heel!" and my particularly cringe worthy favourite "...and let savasna take you into the depths of a relaxing breath"?! What the bloody hell is that meant to mean Fee you total tard!

And of course this is more likely to happen if, like last week, the lovely Julie Bealey, yoga teacher extraordinaire and fantastic inspirational guru (I want to be her when I grow up!) unexpectedly floats into my Saturday morning class for the first time. EEEEEEEKKKK!
Or when I am in a private one to one class with a super high flying, high achieving business person, and nowhere to hide!!!
In those slightly  pressured situations I simply lose complete control of my verbal abilities!
There are worse things I could lose control of I suppose!
So anyway, I am working on it, you will be pleased to know...well, those of you who have to listen to the ramblings in my classes anyway!

And I am not too worried about it. We are all, after all a work in progress. Some bits of us are finished to perfection and other bits need some my case, lots of work!
I think the key is to relax, right? Listen to me, a fully fledged yoga teacher asking if perhaps relaxation may be the key to me functioning better!

I need to practice what I preach - take a breath, and allow things to flow more naturally. As soon as we get into that survival mode, all the lovely added extras our bodies produce leave us.

All those extras like, English!!!!!

I need to tap into my parasympathetic nervous system...I am sure I have one in there somewhere...and allow the calm and controlled side of my mind and body to take hold of the nervous and quivering wreck by the shoulders, lay her down on a comfy sofa, give her a cup of tea, a copy of "Hello" and the night off whilst She takes over.

Perhaps, unlike one of the Bikram robots (too much?!),the fact that I do speak from the heart and I do get my words muddled and sometimes it seems like I have put the wrong teeth in, makes me more real to my clients? Instead of a super bendy, spiritually enlightened, goodie goodie, I am in fact a real human with real life issues and problems like everyone else? Maybe they can see I am an empathetic teacher, who is dealing and struggling with the rest of them!

And until I teach a grammatically correct class, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Namaste Freedom junkies!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Inbuilt Obsolescence

Turns out that where my parents are concerned, I am the family geek!
I only deduce this because lately I get a lot of "Sophie, when you've got a spare minute can you fix my printer/tell me why my email contacts aren't there any more/sort out the Sky plus/show me how to look at my photographs on my computer...." get the picture!
Infact I am not a geek, I think I am just patient and perhaps practical? I am sure my brother's would say, it's because I am close by and born after 1970!!!!!
Anyway, the latest breakdown in the Free household appears to be the 18 month old flat screen TV. For some reason it likes to tease you by switching itself off half way through a juicy episode of "Megastructures" or a particularly exciting seating of "Midsomer Murders" (yawn!) and not allow you back into TV land until the next day. It is like some obsessive parent who thinks that getting square eyes from watching too much Television is actually possible!
I for once had absolutely no idea! I can't even figure out how to change channels on that TV so I was a complete waste of time. After a long discussion with Mum and Dad and a fruitless hunt for the reciept and therefore warranty, we decided that we were all pissed off with electrical items. And there in debated the idea of "inbuilt obsolescence".
I believe it completely. I mean how many times have you had something go wrong a month or two out of warranty? And rather than endure a teeth sucking whistle from an overpriced, dirty booted repair man we take a quick trip to the tip on the way to Comet!
It got me thinking...maybe that's what I have going on with my memory...inbuilt obsolescence! If you know me well, then you are very aware that if it didn't happen in the last year, I have no idea what you are going on about! It has really been worrying me. I wasn't a product of JVC or Sony but perhaps I have a little self destruct button on my memories and after a certain amount of time, if I haven't used them they break!
Just to change tack slightly, I went on a completely incredible yoga workshop on Friday at The Life Centre, Islington. It was a yoga therapeutics and adjustments workshop and amongst other things, we talked about how the body is best healed by the mind, not by doctors or pills. And then the amazing Aadil Palkhivala mentioned Chitta Vritti.
I had no idea what that was...shame on me dedicated yogi!
I shrunk in the back and looked terribly humble as one of the slightly pushy Lululemon clad stick insects shot up her hand, spouted out a passage from the Yoga Sutras and waited smugly for her housepoint!
So basically its a loud and busy mind full of chatter and thoughts. Now I definitely have that! I just didn't realize that was the name for it...I thought it was called "living in the 21st Century!"
I will hold my hands up and admit that I am completely rubbish at meditating and I am only anywhere near "stillness of the mind" when I am in yoga class. And although I have been practising for more than seven years and I have been a teacher for two I am very much a work in progress and I find it very hard still, to take yoga off the mat!
But, after some soul searching this weekend and a delve back into my childhood with some old family friends I get it.
It turns out, Chitta Vritti is the reason for my lack of memory, not inbuilt obsolescence after all! The memories are all still there but I need to relax and stop the chatter for them to be revealed.
So next time you panic that your warranty is up and you are about to break, remember the Chitta Vritti, get yourself to a safe, comfy spot and relax your mind. Whether its for a few deep breaths, several sun salutations or maybe even a lie down with a lavender eye pillow, if you stop the loudness you will soon realize you have a few more years in you yet!!!!
You gotta love yoga!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Personal Touch

I read an article recently saying that it was really important to connect to your yoga students on a personal level.

That really resonated with me.

I have been to yoga classes where you are very obviously just one sweaty face in a sea of faces and the teacher doesn't know you from Adam. They take your money and put you through your paces then promptly herd you out the door so the next crowd can pile in.
A little bit cattle marketesque!
Now that’s fine, I mean I my ego doesn’t dictate that if I am not treated like royalty then I am forever scarred!
However, call me old fashioned but I like it when I go to a class and the teacher and/or receptionist greets me with "Hi Sophie! Are you feeling better after your cold last week?" or "You are going to love tonight’s hamstrings class, oh queen of splits!" You just feel like they care, they notice and they are invested in you as a person.

The other day, a successful interior designer friend of my sister’s was very patiently listening to me moan about how much more of a success I would be if I had a gorgeous white walled, wooden floored studio to teach in, with the scent of cotton filling the air and organza curtains being gently tossed in the breeze coming in from the large open glass doors!

She jerked me back from my daydream with a sharp “Bloody Hell Sophie!”
“Yeah, who wouldn’t want that perfect space for their business? But all that stuff is just the icing on the cake. You have to build a client base and your clients will come and keep coming because of you. They will come because of what you have to offer on a fundamental level, not because the floor is English Oak or because they can get a Coconut Water in the cafe afterwards!”

Giselle runs Dehasse in the same way that I aspire to run Freedom yoga. She knows that besides having all the essential qualifications and professional business qualities, you have to offer a personal touch to your clients.  She made me understand that no matter whether I am teaching in a fabulous purpose built studio or a basic (and dare I say, sometimes grotty!) make-shift space, people will come because of what I have to offer on a personal well as hopefully because my flows rock!!!

And I hope that I do give a little bit of that special individual attention to my clients. Of course it was much easier when my Monday class had 3 in it and Saturday morning was only my faithfully committed sister, Louisa!
Fantastically, my classes are all picking up and I have a database of more than 50 which I am totally ecstatic about, but I am now very aware that however big I get (not my bum, my business!! And by the way I am planning on world domination so be prepared!) I aim to keep that personal approach.

I genuinely want the gossip about Sue’s latest cycling expedition and Judy’s Rock Choir exploits! I want Lucy to know that I am aware of her neck issues and I want to reassure Kev that his manic brain will calm as long as he remembers to breathe!

And all that is as beneficial for my lovely yogis as the class itself  - So what if you forgot to exhale going into downdog, on the upside you got to share your exciting engagement news and have the yoga class dedicated to love!

Now thats the personal touch!!!