Suzanne was mentioning the other day that she thinks students who have let their practice slip are often a little bit shy, or possibly even embarrassed about coming back to the shala to start up their practice again. They feel like, in some way, they’re guilty of neglecting their practice and that they’ve let us down in some way!
I want to state categorically today that nothing could be further from the truth.
When any former student who I haven’t seen for a while walks through the door of the shala I literally can’t stop smiling. There are many things about teaching and running a shala that bring me a lot of joy, but seeing an old student coming back to the practice is probably the thing that makes me happiest. When someone who I thought might have given up ashtanga yoga for good comes back it’s a cause for celebration. It’s not a time for judgement and questions about “where were you”. Those questions don’t even cross my mind. I’m just so happy to see the person that all those questions are irrelevant.
As I’ve said in this e-mail newsletter many, many times, we know that this is a hard practice. It’s not easy to sustain the discipline and dedication it takes to keep it up regularly for your whole life. And we know from experience with our students over the years that some people take four or five attempts to establish a consistent and regular practice before really finding a way that works for them. It’s normal.
We try as much as possible to create a nurturing and supportive environment in the shala. We feel like the community of students who come to practice is a very special group of people and we all understand (teachers and practitioners alike) that people come and go over the years.
I just want to use this platform to make a couple of points:
- There should be absolutely no guilt about not coming to the shala for a while (or even for years). You are ALWAYS welcome.
- If you are not there at the beginning of the Mysore-style class you can still come in.
- Nobody in the history of yoga has done every single posture they’ve ever learned, every day of their lives. If they have then they are crazy! If you haven’t got enough time (or energy) to do your whole practice then come in anyway and do less.
- We have had two children in the last three years, are trying to maintain a shala, support a community of practitioners, and continue our careers as musicians. We understand that not everybody can spend two hours practising yoga every day. But what we have found is that, by doing a little bit of practice every day, then our lives are all the better for it.
If you have been thinking about starting back up your yoga practice after a hiatus, at any shala, then do it now. Your teacher will be delighted to see you!