Why I Teach Self-Love Yoga
I’ve been thinking a lot about yoga; about what yoga is, about how I teach yoga, how yoga ought to be taught, and how I can make yoga relevant and helpful for all people without losing the integrity of the spiritual practice.
You have to teach the spiritual side
In the Eight Limbs of Yoga, the eight steps Patanjali laid out to reach enlightenment, asana (the physical practice that most people are familiar with) is the third step after the Yamas (a moral code of how to act) and the Niyamas (spiritual practices to prepare for the rest of the path). Patanjali would say that you shouldn’t even attempt the physical aspects of yoga until you’ve got these two nailed.
The spiritual journey of yoga is not to be forgotten - it's the whole point.
For this reason the purpose of each yoga class ought to be to aid you on this journey. If you’ve been to one of my classes you might be thinking that I’m being hypocritical, you’ve never heard me mention the Yamas or Niyamas, or use any sanskrit words! But each class will have a theme that relates to some part of Patanjali’s path, I just might not use the official words to describe it. It is deeply important to me that each class has an element of spirituality; if you don’t plan your class with yoga philosophy and teachings in mind, you’re teaching a pilates class with breathing and hertz music.
For it to be a yoga class, your intention has to be to help your students find union (yoga=union)
For me it’s the intention of the classes that makes the difference. My intention in every class is to aid my students spiritual development, even if it’s just a little. By explaining key concepts of the eight limbs in a subtle and relevant way, using everyday words and human examples.
Why the 8 limbs of yoga aren’t enough anymore
I’ve found that, in this terrifying modern world, for most people there has to be an extra step before the spiritual stuff. It’s not that they don’t care or don’t understand, it’s simply that you’re not ready to start on a journey of spiritual development when you hate yourself.
Learning to love yourself has to be step zero of the eight-fold path. When you lack basic level respect for yourself and a belief that you deserve happiness, acting morally or cultivating discipline isn’t and shouldn’t be your priority.
To be able to shine you have to believe you’re able to and worthy to
I’m sure Patanjali had his bad days, but he probably didn’t suffer from depression, anxiety, eating disorders or self-harmed, like so many people I know. Before you can work on your soul (or whatever you want to call it) you have to tend to the human part of you. To be able to develop towards Samadhi (absorption and the final stage of Patanjali’s path) you need to be vibrating at a high frequency, not dragged down by human things like ego, greed or hatred. It’s easy to forget that hatred of ourselves also keeps us stuck at a low frequency.
The point of self-love yoga classes is to help you to heal the human parts of you so when you’re ready you can work on the rest. Even if on the face of it it doesn’t seem “real” yoga, the intention of my self-love classes and courses is to help you get into the right space for stage one.
As with everything, it’s the intention that matters
… and not so much the stretching.
Find out more about my self-love yoga classes and courses here: https://www.floga.org/yoga-courses