By Guest Blogger: Cat Woods
There are 8 limbs to yoga and yet, so often, the only one that gets attention is the third, asana. This isn’t a bad thing – it makes sense. For me, as for many students, it is the first experience we have of yoga and the first element we come to love. It’s important as a teacher not to feel afraid to challenge students with a greater education and experience beyond the dance and flow of asana though. Through yoga, we can commune with God, whatever that means to each of us. That might mean feeling an unbreakable connection to the universe, every atom, every living aspect of the world we’re in. It might mean a temporary stillness and quiet that elevates our spirits so that the constant inner narrative that judges, criticises and competes just drops out and there is abundant space. That lightness of being; the same lightness that moves us over the mat with strength and seemingly effortless grace. These are sthira and sukha, strength and ease. I repeat these like a mantra in my class: sthira, sukha.
Part of deepening your students’ understanding, is your own commitment as a teacher to an ongoing study and education in yoga. Not purely self-study, but engagement with texts and teachers that challenge what you know and ask you to suspect your doubts and skepticism and be curious.
When it comes to reading books on yoga, there are books I have read from front to back (such as the Donna Farhi book mentioned below) over a few days. There are also the books that have taken me years of diving into and taking a break to really consider, to put into practice, to question in my daily life before I feel prepared to go further. Books such as Light On Yoga are intense reading, and to read it without taking time to digest the lessons and the meaning would be to deprive yourself of the real richness of the book and the teacher.
I discovered Hatha Yoga Pradipika in a second-hand bookstore in Bali and after reading excerpts and walking back out, convinced I didn’t need another book in my life, I returned daily for 7 days taking in a paragraph or two on each visit. When I realized I didn’t want to go a day without opening that book, without being excited by something I didn’t know or hadn’t made sense of before, I bought it.
When I have had nothing more than a yoga mat and the fear of not finding somewhere to live (truly!), all my possessions were stored at my brother’s home... all of them except for Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which I nightly returned to and reminded myself of my faith. This was my practice, to read, to remember that I have work to do.
Here are the books I regularly dive into and return to. I’d love your suggestions too.
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Svami Svatmarama
- Light On Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar
- Bringing Yoga To Life by Donna Farhi
- Living Yoga: Creating A Life Practice by Christy Turlington
- Autobiography Of A Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
About the Author
Cat Woods is the Australian founder of Ballet Sculpt. She is also a Vinyasa yoga teacher, mat Pilates instructor, freelance journalist, and blogger. Visit her website here.