Home' Nova National : November 2010 Contents feeling of connection, globalisation in
its positive sense, the global family one
has been looking for. There are certain
"norms" within each style that may include
the atmosphere of the practice room, the
mantras used to begin or end classes, the
pace of the class, the language used and
even the fashion worn by students.
In a discipline that is not generally
about materialism, there are still outer
trappings that pass between students.
Often these have less to do with the original
teachings and more to do with practical
requirements for the practice. For example,
a gentle, slow moving and meditative yoga
practice will be most conducive to long
pants, shirts with sleeves and maybe an
extra layer of clothing too. Mats will not
need to be especially sticky and there may
be various props used to support less agile
participants. A more physically demanding
class will create more heat in the body
and so students will require snug fitting
exercise attire with plenty of freedom to
move. The room may feature students in
cross back tank tops that won't ride up
and pants that are cool but still modest
and won't slide down off hips. In a hot
and sweaty practice, mats may be high
quality non-slip, or they may be covered
with a towel or light rug for safety and
comfort. So the apparent conformity
amongst participants is generally less about
brainwashing and more about pragmatism.
Sanskrit chanting is something new-
comers to yoga may feel a little nervous
about. For some people it all sounds
very foreign and meaningless at first.
Depending again on the style of class,
there may be a little or a lot of chanting.
Some teachers will chant alone. Others
will encourage a call and response while
many are a group chant that opens and/
or closes the session. There are many
mantras, from simple "Aum" to longer
teacher-student invocations or the Gayatri
mantra. Generally, they are included in
the class to set the intention to practise
yoga mindfully with respect for the ancient
history of yoga. Specific mantras may
honour a guru or deity relevant to the
style of yoga. It is never compulsory to
join in and yet, just like the other aspects
of yoga practice, the effect can't be known
until it has been experienced.
In seeking to find your yoga home,
the place where you can develop safely
with a feeling of kindness and support
around you, apply all your skills. Make a
fair assessment based on what you yourself
have experienced rather than anyone
else's theory or opinion. Keep an open
mind but always know your own mind.
When you find a technique that works for
you, practise it consistently for a period of
time and then re-evaluate your practice.
Commit to your own teacher within and
acknowledge that any teacher in a human
body will be flawed in some way. Like any
relationship, set some boundaries as to
what you need from the relationship. Then
give your all. Offer yourself with openness
and vulnerability, knowing that there will
be pain and pleasure, but accepting
diversity as part of the richness of living
your yoga life.
Chandrika Gibson ND is a
holistic yoga teacher and naturopath.
© NOVA NOVEMBER 2010 33
'When you find a technique
that works for you, practise
it consistently for a period of
time and then re-evaluate
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