Everything closes in Sweden over the summer. Everything, including yoga studios. I have managed to find and attend a handful of yoga classes over the last month, and all of them have left lasting impressions on me. Not always for the best reasons.
If the past couple of weeks have taught me one thing, it’s how incredibly lucky I have been to have such amazing teachers in London. Catherine Annis, Elisa Devlin, Louise Grime, Lizzie Reumont, Jen de Lucry, Tanja Mickwitz… The list of inspiring, kind, funny and outright fantastic teachers goes on and on. For some naïve reason I had assumed that this is what yoga teachers are – fantastic by default!
Of course, I didn’t connect with each and every one I have ever met on the mat, but chances of finding something that deeply resonated with me (be it a philosophical or physical aspect) were pretty high.
Let’s say Stockholm’s yoga experience has left me deeply underwhelmed. The first class I went to was taught by a lady that was a little patronising. Her tone of voice suggested she herself invented yoga and that we, her mentally and physically underprivileged little students, had only little hope of getting any of what she was talking about.
The next teacher was extremely keen on showing off his handstand skills in a class that consisted to 95% of elderly women with problems to stand on both feet for longer periods, let alone on their hands.
The third teacher felt somewhat inaccessible and was incapable of making eye contact with anyone of her students.
And the next one, although a really nice guy who had the hipster yogi style down to a tee (socket bun, slouchy harem pants, organic cotton t-shirt, friendship bracelet from some remote ashram in India), was deeply into Sivananda. I only found out during class that this involves holding your breath for several, very long seconds, which results in a slight dizziness. I am all for a different mental state in meditation, but I much prefer to get there without cutting off the oxygen supply.
Needless to say that my recent yoga practice was that of a self-centred one, on the second floor of my house, in the little room with the green flowered wallpaper.
I am trying (very, very hard) not to let frustration get to me, but to learn something from this whole episode. Maybe that it is important to remember to make yourself accessible. That a smile and a few words of encouragement go a long way. That you have to teach a class according to the physical capabilities of your students. And that I really don’t like holding my breath.