Be Where You Are – by Leo Mowry
There are a lot of “one size fits all” yoga classes out there. Classes that are constructed on the assumption that everyone is strong, has good mobility and no injuries, illness or special needs. Classes predicated on everyone being able to flow easily from pose to pose to pose, with proper alignment, and absolutely no threat of getting hurt. Classes in which the instructors assume the students know how to take care of their own bodies, but offer little to no guidance of how to actually do that.
I don’t admire this approach. Frankly, I think it’s dangerous. Over the years I’ve made a lot of money working to help rehabilitate people who have hurt themselves – sometimes badly – in “one size fits all” classes. People that trusted their instructors to keep them safe, assumed that the aggressive hands-on assists were in their best interests, and were lulled by the lyrical yoga voices gently guiding the poses.
When I was a new yoga teacher, I was struck by how much I didn’t know. I attended my first Therapeutic Yoga teacher training in 2003, motivated by the desire to learn to keep my students safe. Little did I know that this yearning for more knowledge would ignite my passion and change the course of my teaching journey forever. Since then I’ve trained and studied and explored and practiced and researched. I’ve learned to help people minimize and get out of pain, and the yoga/movement do’s and don’ts of countless conditions and diseases.
Most importantly, though, I’ve learned that it’s vital to meet my students where they are. Helping them accept their actual physical realities and honour the value of their bodies’ sensations and signals. I’ve learned that when I can help my students practice with awareness, curiosity and respect for their current needs, amazing transformations can occur. I’ve learned that when we can be where we are, with acceptance and grace, we have an incredible launch pad for growth and healing.
I’ve learned that every body can practice yoga. But it’s not “one size fits all” and never will be.
Leo is a Yoga Therapist and owns Village Yoga in Toronto. She has been practicing Taoism since 1996, Yoga since 1998, and became a Reiki Master in 2009. She specializes in weaving the 3 modalities together – the mental, the physical and the energetic – helping people to relieve physical and emotional pain. Leo is a t.v. host (“A Brand New Day” on Rogers TV), author (“Advancing Your Yoga Practice: The Art of Slowing Down”) and guided relaxation recording artist (“The Voice of Relaxation, Volume 1”). In addition to creating and facilitating the therapeutic yoga programme for Stretch. Heal. Grow., Leo is also a 2-time lululemon ambassador and an ongoing contributor of expertise and articles for various TV shows, web sites, publications, and retreats. To learn more, visit www.villageyoga.ca, www.facebook.com/leomowry, and www.youtube.com/user/leomowry.