Photo courtesy of Yoga East
Margaret, my first yoga teacher only taught once a week at a gym with no other yoga classes. But she encouraged us to practice often. So from the beginning I have done quite a bit of yoga by myself at home. In Bringing Yoga to Life (one of my favorite books) Donna Farhi suggests this as a way to take greater ownership of your practice, and I think it has done that for me. Another good thing about being alone is that I can do exactly as much of the practice as I have time and energy for on a particular day. Margaret had a saying, “there’s no yoga police,” that effectively gave us permission for that. One downside of practicing without a teacher is – not surprisingly – that it is hard to progress and easy to fall into bad habits. It can also be a bit lonely.
For the first couple of years after Margaret was diagnosed with cancer and stopped teaching, I didn’t want to think about finding another teacher. Then we moved to Portsmouth and I started to look for a new studio. After one false start at a place with an energetic vibe but, for me, way too much emphasis on the body-building aspects of yoga, I discovered the 6-AM
. This class is modeled on the primary teaching style of Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. Each student does his or her practice individually, with the teacher there to provide guidance, coaching and physical adjustments to the postures. I arrived at my first class one early summer morning with a load of grief over the loss of my teacher and a fairly half-baked, idiosyncratic, practice and found what still seems like, more than eight years later, the perfect home.