Is it just me or Yoga community is non-existent?!
Yoga and Spirituality has become a very big “trend” recently…If you look on Instagram, or any other social media platform its all about Yoga poses, hot yoga pants, yoga challenges, yoga HIIT, yoga shreds, sexy yoga bodies and so on…. Which may become quite intimidating if yo have never done yoga before and not looking for a physical challenge that seems impossible to achieve. It becomes even less appealing if you have heard or read somewhere that yoga is a spiritual practice where you surrender your ego and find happiness, meaning or even enlightenment. I have been practicing yoga for over 8 years myself and only recently have decided to test that yogic spirit of mine by contacting various Yoga Studios and test that yogic life that we all go through in ashrams as part of our teachers training courses is far from bing real… Well, to my biggest surprise, none of the studios I have contacted were interested in offering their space for free or at reduced price for one(!!!) 3 hr donation based workshop for a charity project. I have been even more impressed that some chose to ignore my email and no one was interested in meeting up for a demo or ask any questions. So my conclusion was that unless you have established a big name with massive following in the industry, or want to become a paying client to “see what we are about” you are not to do you karma yoga there… Let me explain from the beginning what I mean and how I got around to share my frustration (at first) and strong commitment to change things around.
The whole things started after I have completed my most recent Yoga course at Durga’s Tyger school of Yoga and Shamanism in Ecuador, SA. Tantra Yoga has inspired me more than ever to continue my work with women and practice living in my Feminine truth (Shakti) so I have decided to share this knowledge on the donations based classes that would help me raise funds for Women Empowerment projects around the World. You see for me, Yoga is a spiritual practice and Tantra yoga helped me to understand even deeper the role of my body in it. Yoga teaches us about importance of the community, about relations between human beings and Earth, about walking your talk, sharing your knowledge and practising daily to stay connected to your true purpose, contributing to wellbeing of others. I felt very inspired and I thought that rather than doing monetary contributions this year as I usually do, I would contribute my energy and time and share all I know with women in the countries where their rights are far from being equal and where woman’s body has very little meaning, and her soul even less. I travel a lot already and I teach Yoga for more than 8 years, I have been practicing asanas, meditation, pranajama…but only now I start to understand what it means to truly become a Yogi and how one should live her/his life. As I have mentioned before, I am very blessed to have seen so much of the World by the age of 33 and the whole planet Earth has become my HOME, truly…I respect every country I go to and I understand how alike we all are and how we all look for the same thing and that is to suffer less (whatever it means to you). Some of us struggle from physical, others from emotional conditions, but at the end we all want to find out meaning of our life in this World…I see every person as a Soul who is simply trying to find its way..Some do, some don’t. There is a moment in everyone’s life when we start asking ourselves questions about the purpose of it all and we either set out on a quest to find answers or we start numbing that voice in our head with things like work, alcohol, drug, sex, food and other….It all comes from a conscious or unconscious depressed state of mind..and some find it easier to end this life so the suffering can end. However, according to yogic tradition, it won’t…you’ll come back to fulfil your purpose again and again until you understand that it is the only way to end suffering… I say that not because I won’t to sound pessimistic, but rather to share what I start to understand myself…
“We are not human being having spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”. – Stephen R. Covey
You see, for me, it took a while to find my way to where I am now and to have a deep understanding that I am here to learn about myself and to share it with others. I come from a family that didn’t have strong believes in God and had no spiritual practice as such, so unlike some I have’t been forced into believing in anything so I chose not to and called myself atheist until the age of 23…I’ve been reading many books that would support my views and I thought my goal in life was to succeed so I can prove the World my worth…The funny thing is that every time I achieved something (and looking back now I have achieved more than an average 19 year old who left her country in search of better life) I felt more unhappy than I was before…I started to ask myself questions like “whats the point of it all? Why does everyone bother to get that job, that house? Have this life or that life?” It has become obvious to me that it all has an end and all we do is finding destruction or a temporary solution. I started to feel lonely and isolated, as my life has become divided into two identities – one was a young woman who tries to make a living and see the World and travel and impress her parents; and the other one, who is another unhappy soul that doesn’t understand the meaning of all this hustle on Earth. And this is where my search has began…
In 2005 I have decided to try yoga as it was rapidly gaining its popularity in USA at that time. I have purchased a DVD for called “Power Yoga” and followed it all the way though with all that Ego and effort a 20 year old yearn can put in. The next day I couldn’t move. That was the end of yoga for me till a few years later. You see there was no one there to hold my hand and guide me on a journey of self discovery. I haven’t had a slights idea about Yoga and to me it was a workout. I was fit but I had no understanding of Mind-Body-Spirit concept and no sources to ask. Well, at least thats how I felt than as I wasn’t into all this “ask for help if you need it” or “accept that you don’t know it all at 20” idea, but I am now, more than ever!
This article is not really about my life story and yoga journey but I thought it was important to share where I was coming from to what I am about to share with you…Nowadays, I consider myself a committed spiritual being on a quest, I learn how to stay present and observe my own behaviour in various situations. I am curious about my daily mini challenges and I have fun watching my Ego playing up various scenarios in my head. I am not perfect nor I am striving to be one, but I know that my vocation is a teacher, and therefore I am committed to learn.
“If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.” – Yogi Bhajan, teacher of Kundalini Yoga.
I have been called to work on awakening of the feminine for a while, probably around the same time when I started to search for different ways of living life. I am coming from a strong female line in my family where strength means giving all you got to the others and fight till your last breath. I agree with the second part but giving all you got without refuelling your self never agreed with me on a cellular level. In fact, it was and still is something I am trying to heal. This calling has resulted into me choosing to work with women as personal trainer, nutritionist and yoga teacher. However, as I was working with hundreds of women by helping them to loose weight, gain confidence, improve flexibility and so on, I have noticed that there is so much more to their desire of wanting a particular look, it was desire to be happy. So I started to share what I know from my own journey with them and I have noticed that it resonated with quite a few of them. It encouraged me to find various ways of sharing the wisdom on finding your happiness, but most importantly meaning of life.
However, apart from working with wonderful women in UK, USA, Russia, Australia and South Africa, I have had a strong urge to help those in developing countries.
“Educate a girl, and she will change the World”
These words resonate with me on a cellular level. I believe that over population, poverty, famine, rape, domestic abuse and many more horrific things that are happening around the World daily come from silencing women’s voice and not having equal opportunities for even basic education. “Ignorance is a bliss” they say, well not to those who is eager to know more but don’t even know about different ways of living. I have seen those girls and women in India, South Africa, Thailand…My heart felt the call to be involved. I have searched and found many projects around the World that help to empower women with basic skills that help them to find work and education that helps them to become aware of their own value and gives them independence to earn and support families. There is one organisation though that particularly stood out for me and I have decided to raise funds and participate in three Women Empowerment programs in India, Laos and Peru. Once I have chosen the programs, I needed to find the ways to save money to be able to go our there for a period of two weeks at a time(6 weeks in total) on volunteering basis. Being a self employed professional requires to have discipline and motivation to not only earn to support yourself but to also cover holidays, sick days and continued education. In this case, work on these projects abroad means I need to leave my clients and my day to day activities behind. Thankfully, I have the skills, I have the opportunities and I have the knowledge to do so. With a little if self reassurance, I set myself a JustGiving page and started to look around for various venues that can host me for my donation based Workshops where I wanted to share all I know as a yoga teacher, personal trainer, life coach, immigrant, victim of domestic violence, being a woman. All I needed is a place on good rent conditions(or donated) where a sacred space for women can be created to take part in my sessions while contributing to the greater cause.
Travelling around the World gives me an opportunity to develop an international community and possibilities to teach in various countries. I couldn’t wait to connect with fellow yoga teachers and studio owners to at least meet and share my concerns and ideas. After all, this is what we all learn as yoga practitioners – the collective consciousness and importance of community.
To my disappointment, fear is still the driving force even amongst yoga teachers…fear of unknown, fear of instability, fear of meeting new, fear of sharing and not having enough….Sad, but it is a fact. The thing is, I would of opened my own studio long time ago (and one day I will when I am ready to settle down) but my current life and work pace is so fast and takes me all around the Globe and I am happily following the Flow and spread the love everywhere I go. Therefore, for now, I use various beautiful spaces for my students, followers and myself.
This is the end of my story. It is not a finish line but rather a start point. My workshops are all set to go in Watford, UK thanks to hosting venue (YMCA studios) and in Russia in my home town where people know who I am and looking forward to see what I can bring. As of now, I only go to the places where I feel welcomed, and I am happy with it. My intention was to reach out to as many places as I can, and so far I got more than enough. I am grateful for those who gives me space to create and to share. The rest of the World will come along…sometime soon!
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples” –