• Aoife McHugh

Mindfully Moving Through March: YTT Module 3

Three months into 2020, three modules complete. One-third of this year is almost behind us and what a transformative trinity it is has been for me. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to become a teacher and share this powerful practice with others. Something other-worldly occurs when I rigorously roll out my mat. My mind settles and tracks a way through the tangle of thoughts to merge with body and soul. I like to think of it as Trifecta Time. While some thoughts come and go, there is nothing quote like the positive feeling that pervades. A magical movement in mindset and a boost in mood, it is something I like to call: Mattitude. 

Three things I learned from Module III

Express   Yourself

When you have the privilege of leading someone through their yoga practice, it is essential that you present to them the most authentic version of yourself. This time could be the highlight of their day so don't be afraid to transmit your true self. We took part in an extremely enjoyable exercise where we each demonstrated our passion through a yoga pose. I chose to share my penchant for writing through Vrksasana (tree pose). The thought process behind this? Writing→Paper→Trees.  Simplicity is key for me!

I started this little asana analogy with a Maya Angelou quote:

"ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ɪꜱ ɴᴏ ɢʀᴇᴀᴛᴇʀ ᴀɢᴏɴʏ ᴛʜᴀɴ ʙᴇᴀʀɪɴɢ ᴀɴ ᴜɴᴛᴏʟᴅ ꜱᴛᴏʀʏ ᴡɪᴛʜɪɴ ʏᴏᴜ."

I then attempted to take my fellow yogis on a journey to creativity with me. I began by rooting down into the mat (explaining that this is how an idea comes to me). I lifted my foot and placed it on my ankle (the idea develops). After this, I placed my foot on my inner thigh and expanded my arms (this is how I channel creativity into my life, by expressing gratitude for the initial idea). I explained that I sometimes use meditation to ask for creativity to perch in my soul. As a result of all these factors, the writing process begins.

This idea stemmed from Elizabeth Gilbert's beautiful book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, which then led to a brief chat about this wonderful lady. In order for people to love your class you need to make it less memory, more memorable. By sharing yourself with others you give them the opportunity to do the same with you. I like to think of it as familiarity breeding content.

Expand your  Gameplan

When planning a sequence, it should have a specific theme or intention with a clear emphasis on movement. As much as I love a good Savasana, in general, people usually like to feel like they have gotten a physical workout in. Therefore class should be structured accordingly-increase movement→reduce stress. Class should feature four key elements: Meditation, Pranayama, Asana and Relaxation. I see it as gently working up to winding down.

Classes can be structured around a peak pose (e.g an inversion like wheel pose) or on a theme (e.g heart opening, the Chakras are a great form of inspiration here). If you focus on opening the heart be mindful of allowing people to leave in a calm way.

The word emotion is derived from the Latin word emovere meaning to stir, to agitate, to move. While it is worthwhile to allow your students to be move and be moved, it is essential that they are allowed to centre themselves once more before they leave. Allow them to go gently back into that good night (or day) with nothing to hinder them along the way.

ᴀʀᴍ ʏᴏᴜʀꜱᴇʟꜰ ꜰᴏʀ ʙᴀʟᴀɴᴄᴇ

During this module, we focused on preparation and execution of arm balances. 

It can be quite intimidating when you find yourself in an advanced yoga class and people are casually hanging out upside down. This was way out of my comfort zone but we learned a few tricks which quite literally turned my world around! 

As headstand (sirsasana) is the one I am most comfortable with at the moment, I will talk you through some of the things I learned. (Obvs don't try this for the first time unless you are under the guidance of a Yoga professional!)

  • Find a wall and it will have your back! Sometimes it is just our mind that is restricting us through fear. Feeling the wall behind you provides reassurance. 

  • Relax the neck and release shoulders (this is a dangerous pose, not to be taken lightly) 

  • Never jump into the pose, moderate momentum should take you there, almost as if it is simply a shift in weight. 

  • Slowly come down one leg at a time.

  • Make your way to Child's pose to give your body and Central Nervous System time to readjust. 

Three benefits: 

  • Strengthens shoulders and arms

  • Improves blood circulation, making the brain more active

  • Stimulates healthy digestion 

With so much uncertainty in the world at the moment, it is important to take time for yourself. If there is one place that I feel at ease, it is on my yoga mat. For added animal therapy, you could also invite your cat! When you can't go outside, use the time to reflect within. Explore the workings of your body and mind, you might just be surprised with what you find.

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©2020 by Aoife Mchugh.