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How to practice Svadhyaya to get past the fear of being yourself

So, I’m flowing to a lo-fi album and running my lesson plan through it. As I’m starting to zen-out, I’m reminded of a couple of feedback from my former students after a class. One said, in verbatim, “I love your class but I hate the music!”. The other one was asking for more "traditional" yoga music.

Using my music selection to practice Svadhyaya

I started my teaching practice with the intention that I will be who I am. Teach what I want, what I believe in and what I love.

I use music that helps underpin the intention I plan for any particular class, set the rhythm of the flow (like a metronome) and fill the "empty space". I oscillate between Lo-Fi, classical , world and epic music. These are what I use in designing my classes; I find they help punctuate the ebbs and flows of the vinyasa.

It never appealed to me to use kirtan or similarly labelled "yoga music" just to feel more yogic or give the appearance that I'm a "real" yoga teacher who gives "real" yoga classes.

These comments though; they tested me.

After receiving the not-so-glowing feedback, I changed it up and put on more "yoga" music. It didn’t last.

My head was distracted, my groove was off and I didn’t feel authentic to myself.

And this, my friend, is anathema to yoga.


Discovering yourself through Introspection

I had a long, hard look at the choices before me: change my music selection and therefore changing who I am and what I offer in my teaching to suit what only a couple of people thought was “real” yoga, or, well…not. Changing would bundle me into the popular concept of yoga and what, maybe, a greater number of people want.

But that “maybe” isn’t a guarantee that my class numbers would increase.

Incidentally, it didn’t. I tried it out for a month.

So I went back to my music. While being more of who I am, I braced myself for what would mean a potential drop in numbers because my music selection isn’t “real yoga”. I was the odd one out, and I’d be lying if I said that thought didn’t scare me.

But I decided to trust, and be honest, and be brave.

I gave the more marketable "yoga music" a fair chance to grow on me, but it didn't.

So I went back to my lo-fi, world and epic music.

The pay-off for being authentic to yourself

You know what, my numbers held! It held with my regulars and increased with newcomers, who are, as I’m publishing this, now regulars as well.

People still come up to me saying they love my classes…and either don’t comment on the music {which is in itself a good thing} or say they’ve never done yoga to my selection of music...and they loved it!

Well, what do you know!?

The Practice of Introspection

Introspection can be one of the scariest things we can do. It is never comfortable to look ones' self in the eye - metaphorically - and objectively evaluate yourself to the bare basics of who you are.

However, this fear only lasts for as long as you fight against "seeing" yourself. This resistance usually comes from the ego, stubbornness or a distorted view of yourself.

But if compassion, kindness and honesty are what we opt to guide this introspection, then self-acceptance and love will be our reward.

Svadyaya / Introspection. It’s a good thing.

Here are 3 practical tips in practicing Svadhyaya

  1. Don't be afraid to take suggestions into consideration, but you are not obligated to accept them without your own due-diligence in reviewing if it fits you.

  2. Ground your beliefs and behaviours on what you value. Always ask what the intention of your beliefs & behaviours are to gauge if they align with your values.

  3. Remember that there is a difference between being authentic and being stubborn, and it's ok to change your mind.

I'll let you mull that last one for yourself; make it part of your Svadhyaya.


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