Tag Archives: Teacher

Jazz and Collages

5 Feb

One of my favourite things to do on a winter evening is listen to jazz and make collages.

Collage

A recent collage

I started making collages two years ago, after my yoga teacher asked everyone in the class to “go home and make a mood board”. In fact, “our subconscious works with images”, she said “so it is more useful to look at an image of what we wish to bring into our lives, rather than to make a list of New Year’s resolutions, for example”.

In order to pick out images that relate to our subconscious, our yoga teacher gave us the following instructions:

1)      Set aside at least half an hour in your day for solely this activity.

2)      Create a calm atmosphere: light candles, put on relaxing music, dim the lights, take a few deep breaths, clear your mind.

3)      Have a selection of magazines and newspapers ready. It doesn’t matter what they are, as long as they have pictures in them!

4)      Flick through the magazines and cut out all images that you feel immediately attracted to. Don’t think about it – your ‘gut’ choice may be surprising or unexpected to your rational mind, but the important thing is to go with your gut feeling.

5)      Put all of the images together either into a frame that you can hang up in a visible place in your home, or into a large art notebook, to which you can add images regularly.

6)      Keep on looking out for images that seem meaningful to you – ask friends to give you their old magazines, pick up free newspapers and leaflets, take photos, print out images from the internet that you love. Keep on building up your mood board and make new ones when the older ones no longer seem relevant.

After having made our collages, my yoga classmates and I began discovering amazing things manifest themselves in our lives. A girl who had chosen an image of a horse walking on a beach was soon invited by a cousin to do horse-riding along the sea. I had made collages based around photos of the beach and nature, to find myself moving to the South of France half a year later.

Collages not only remind our subconscious of what we truly want, but they add a personal and warm touch to our homes. In my kitchen and my living room I have collages that reflect my desires. These carry so much more meaning for me than the artwork of an unknown (or famous) artist hanging on my wall, because they are something that my subconscious itself has chosen and created.

Collage

Kitchen Collage

I also have a large art book, to which I regularly add images from any magazines I can get my hands on. I choose a page in the book that I particularly like and put it on a visible place in my home. Looking at these images brings me a sense of peace and comfort.

 Collage

Another favourite from my book

Try it yourself: set aside half an hour this week to make a mood board. Follow the instructions above and keep your mood board in a visible place. Let your subconscious and the universe do the rest!

Return to Yoga

7 Sep

“I haven’t done any exercise for five years”. I think of my friend’s words with horror as I practice yoga for the first time in two months. My muscles are tight, my joints creak and my limbs just refuse to bend into place. It’s clear that my body has not appreciated being abandoned during the summer.

My yoga journey between spring and summer was full of discoveries and disappointments. I experienced the joy of my first solo yoga practice, as well as the frustration of not being able to find a suitable yoga teacher. I tried half a dozen classes, but none of them gave me the feeling of peace and well-being that I treasured so much in my previous schools. I settled for a class with an experienced teacher who had trained in India. With her, I learnt perfect alignment, but I learnt this through harsh discipline and fear; she would raise her voice at our ‘mistakes’ and would rarely return a smile.

By her last class in July I was tired, frustrated and disconnected from my physical and spiritual states. I had lost all interest in yoga. I couldn’t even remember why I had enjoyed it in the first place. Did it once really make me feel good? Did it really have such an important role in my life all these years? I did not practice once in the two months that followed and even felt repelled when simply thinking about it.

However, yesterday, something shook me out of my slumber. After a whole day slouching and stressing in front of the computer I could feel my body yearning for just one thing. Without further thought, I rolled out my dusty yoga map onto the bedroom floor…and suddenly….I remembered!

I remembered how amazing it feels to S-T-R-E-T-C-H.

I remembered how satisfying it is to let your body tell you exactly what it needs.

I remembered how relaxing and refreshing it is to go with the flow of your breath.

I remembered how satisfying it is to heal your body with every pose.

It was the most natural thing to let myself be guided by my body; it knew more than my mind about my current state of health and spirit.  During that practice I needed no explanation for why I love yoga. In my mum’s words, “It’s not about how far you can stretch; it’s about how you feel in the stretch”. With new yoga classes starting this September, I will choose a teacher with whom I can connect on the spiritual level, and for the rest I will listen to my body for guidance.

If You Love It, Teach It!

16 Mar

“The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.”  ~ Author Unknown

The best teacher that I have ever had stood out from all the dozens of others by one simple thing: love. This teacher loved what she taught, she loved teaching and she loved her pupils. Every time I was in her class, I felt as if that hour with her was sacred. She treated every pupil as her own child, and taught us in a way that showed us that we were just as important to her as she was to us. She truly wanted to share her knowledge with us, and to make us discover the happiness that she herself experienced through this subject. Through her honesty, openness, attention and care she did more than teach – she inspired.

In current times, it is rare to find a teacher with all of the above qualities. I have come across teachers who taught simply to make money, or because they couldn’t find another job; I have known teachers who were unqualified and unmotivated, and those who simply did not care about their students. Jacques Barzun rightly said that “teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition”. The current focus on passing exams and getting the best grades has transformed learning from a process of discovery to a process of repetition, regurgitation and memorisation. Teachers are no longer valued as our guides to self-discovery, and they are no longer respected as professionals with a wealth of knowledge.

There is never a shortage of eager students looking for the perfect teacher (all of us would love to learn one thing or another), but unfortunately, there is a shortage of eager teachers looking for the perfect student. Why is that? Because we have come to believe that being a teacher means having a qualification or a post to confirm our abilities. In fact, there is a teacher in all of us: we all have something that we love and that we would love to pass on to others. Last week-end, I taught yoga to a friend. We did a ‘proper’ class, with postures, sequences and techniques, and both of us came away happy. I am not a yoga master, nor am I trained as a yoga teacher, but yoga is something that I love, and something that I would love to pass on to others, and therefore it was a great pleasure for me to spend an evening teaching it to someone who was curious and willing to learn.

We all know how much joy it brings us to share our passion with others, and I believe that one of the best ways to do this is by teaching. Whether you love literature, singing, playing on the piano, gardening, knitting, swimming, writing, playing chess…there is someone who would love to learn from you. Whether in a formal or informal class, paid or free, with friends or strangers, regularly or irregularly, to a group or to an individual, sharing what you love is a gift. Don’t let your talents and your passions go to waste – pass them on!

If you love it, teach it!

Happy International Women’s Day!

8 Mar

“I have worshipped woman as the living embodiment of the spirit of service and sacrifice.”
~ Mohandas Gandhi

Today is International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate the feminine energy that gives us so much love in life. For men, it is a day to show how much the women in your lives mean to you; for women, it is a day to rejoice the goddess within.

Once, in a yoga/spirituality class, my teacher asked us to write down what it means for us to be a goddess. Here is what being a goddess means to me:

Kindness

Understanding

Care

Nature

Love

Laughter

Dance

Touch

Softness

Lightness

Wisdom

Flow

Water

Earth

Patience

Healing

Air

Song

Rhythm

Movement

Creation

Courage

Faith

Beauty

Humility

Breath

Energy

Life

Peace

Imagination

 

What does being a goddess mean to you?