The accidental yogi
The benefits of practicing with a guest teacher
As a particularly lazy yoga student, I have been known to use a lot of excuses to get out of practicing. So, when I heard that Hot Yoga Ibiza founder Sebastien Carincotte would be away during December, I figured the studio would be closed and I’d have an enforced yoga holiday. But Sebastien cares deeply about giving his students a space to practice regularly and as such, he arranged for a wonderful guest teacher, Bea Ramirez, to step in and fill his classes.
It’s easy for us students to get attached to a certain style of yoga, or a certain teacher’s methods but we need to always remember that yoga is all about practicing NON-attachment! Being given the opportunity to practice with a guest teacher can be a blessing – it takes you out of your comfort zone and into the present moment. Exactly where you should be during practice. You need to concentrate and get used to a new voice and a new rhythm and this is a good thing. If every practice were identical, we’d never advance or evolve as students.
Every guest teacher brings something unique to the studio and with their fresh set of eyes, they can often identify elements of your practice that your regular teacher may not always see. It could be a certain pose where you opt to take the ‘easy’ approach or a bad habit you’ve developed – a guest teacher will push you to try harder, to give your best, to correct yourself. It may be that you’ve forgotten a certain technique in a particular pose – a guest teacher will spot that you’re out of alignment, collapsing an ankle or hyperextending your knees or wrists thus helping you prevent any future injuries.
I discovered by practicing with a guest teacher that although I thought the Camel was my weakest position, it seems the Triangle and I are also going through a bit of a rough patch. I need to widen my stance and bend forward much more deeply… and most importantly, I need to stop giving up halfway through the pose. ‘But it’s just so painful!’ my brain screams… while my guest teacher pushes me to confront my brain and ask if it my hamstrings are actually hurting, or if it’s merely discomfort I’m feeling. Hmmm. Teacher 1. Brain 0.
I have to also admit that I am likely to push myself a little harder with a guest teacher. You want the person at the front of the room to like you. You want them to think you’re a good yogi. Or in my case, you just don’t want them to think you suck at yoga. And yes, I know this should NOT be the intention of a yogi – it’s not a competition and it’s not about winning or losing or being the best or the worst – but it feels like an opportunity to elevate your practice. Which has in turn made me realise, this is an attitude I should bring to class every day.
At the end of the day, your yoga class should not be about who the teacher is standing in front of you. Sure, not all teachers are created equal, but your practice is all about you, and you only. Of course, your instructor is there to guide you, to correct you and to teach you but it’s you as a student who does the work. Your body and your mind receive the benefits of the practice regardless of who leads the class. Yoga teaches us to be mindful and grateful and with this in mind, we should all be thankful that we have had a guest teacher to lead us through classes while our regular instructor was away. So, thank you Bea, for your guidance and your dedication. Namaste and see you next time!