I moved to Madrid, Spain in October of 2016, nearly two years ago. My yoga practice has transformed so much since then. I dabbled around different yoga studios and teachers but couldn't find a place that resonated with me.
When I was looking for an apartment in Madrid one of my requirements was having enough space to practice. This is important when you are considering living in a studio!
I've always had an interest in Ashtanga yoga. For a while I had been craving something more from my practice, I was seeking a deeper connection with myself, something more spiritual. The only studios that really spoke to me were the Ashtanga studios in Madrid.
A few weeks into starting my Mysore practice I went to the shala (yoga studio) a little nervous, trying not to forget the sequence of postures. I feel like this must be a mutual feeling with Mysore beginners. I never took a sheet with me into class, I just practiced the poses in my head and also had it as my wallpaper on my phone.
In one particular class I couldn't remember the poses and one of the teachers noticed I was having issues with the sequence. She kindly asked me to repeat a couple poses until I got the order right. You know that feeling when you get so nervous you kinda blackout? I'm not sure why, but that happened.
She then asked me, who is your teacher? I blanked and I said I don't have a teacher. She smiled and walked away. I felt like crying! WTF was going on.
For the first time in a long time, I felt unguided, I felt vulnerable and I felt alone in the practice. I don't know if it was because of starting something new that I felt like this, or because I had just moved to a new country and was feeling a little homesick or, all of the above.
They say that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. And I have noticed this to be true. I've had numerous teachers come in and out of my life, some yoga-related teachers and other non-yoga related teachers.
I don't think we need to close and limit ourselves to having only one teacher in our practice. Nor in our lives. I've had a non-yoga related teacher that guided me through most of my twenties and I wasn't even looking for a "teacher". She was a life-mentor on a personal and spiritual level. Our relationship just fell into place, organically.
"No one is sent to anyone by accident"- A Course In Miracles
In yoga, I think sometimes we focus too much on searching for the right teacher, the right type of yoga, the right studio etc...But when we stop searching and we surrender ourselves to the practice, we notice that the teacher isn't going to do the work for us, we are the ones doing the work on the mat.
"The teacher is there to give you reassurance that you are on the right path, but the real inner teacher is in the practice itself" -Guy Donahaye, Guruji: A Portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
After allowing myself to surrender fully into the practice did I feel like things began to fall in place. I was no longer obsessed with being sure I knew the poses in my head, or obsessed about finding a teacher. It just seemed to happen and it felt right. I think the same will happen to you if you are in a similar situation.
The beauty of yoga is that you can take it anywhere. If you are beginning, start with 15-20 minutes of sun salutations and allow yourself to turn inwards. What do you notice? Allow the practice to work for you. What does it tell you? What can you learn from those moments on the mat?
I believe having a teacher is very important. They are there for guidance and to show you postures correctly and safely, however, not having the "one" shouldn't be a show-stopper to begin or continue your journey. The teacher will come and you will be guided. Just do the work and remember the teachings are in the practice.
I think I could have easily decided to become a home practitioner here in Madrid but I'm glad I stumbled into Ashtanga. After practicing for over a year at the shala, I found the support and guidance I was seeking. But I still have other teachers outside of Madrid that when I can I go to them. Everyone has a different path and perhaps your teacher/s may come sooner or later. I think the key is building confidence in your own personal practice so you can surrender, recieve and explore your inner realm.
Gratitude and Love.