By stepping onto my mat daily I get to check in with how I’m doing physically AND emotionally. Its like a little daily service. I notice any aches and pains. Any highs or lows in my energy. Sometimes I feel heavy and slow. Other times light and strong. I get to observe all of this outside my daily life. Over the years I have begun to understand what I need when I feel sluggish or tired. When to push myself and when to nurture myself. And when I just need a day off!
When we take on a regular demanding Asana practice we are putting our bodies under various stresses and strains. This is generally a good thing. But sometimes we can take it a bit far, push a bit much and end up with an injury or being depleted energetically. I sustained a fairly significant injury a couple of years ago. I rejected that part of me as a response. I’d go so far as to say I hated that part of me that wasn’t ‘performing’ as I felt it should. Needing to master a specific pose was more important than having a pain free healthy body. I still do struggle with this at times. I want so much to have an advanced practice and yet I know now better for me, what my limits are. When my body tells me something like…er stop now please! I am much better at listening. Better….not perfect. In these times, wether I’ve sustained an injury through my yoga practice or getting hit by a car in Thailand (it happened!). I have got much better at accepting and loving all of my body.
I have totally changed the language I use towards my own body, the injured bits, the softer bits, dimply bits. I hardly ever use language like….my bad back, dodgy knee, fat arse…chin…thighs…etc etc. And if I do I generally notice and correct myself. When I hear my students say something like…’this is my BAD side’. I try to suggest an alternative ‘this is my more challenging side’. Labelling our body parts ‘bad’ or ‘good’ is a habit many of us share, but if we can start to notice our negative language and change it I really believe we can begin to change our relationship with our bodies. My yoga practice helps me with this as I am constantly shown things I cannot do. Can I just notice that and be good with where I’m at is the challenge.
This one took a loooonnnnnggg time! I did not just start practicing yoga and become vegan and only wear hemp! I ate meat up until 3 years ago and I only stopped because I just thought I’d try it out. I still eat a little dairy and I have a coffee a day….every day! However through a chronic health issue that ordered me to address my sugar loaded diet I have ditched some pretty unhealthy addictions and begun to understand how the food I eat affects the way I feel. The yoga practice is like a daily gauge to help me with this.
After over 10 years of regular practice there are many things I can do now that I could not before. I still often surprise myself. There are many things I have yet to master. Some postures I know are available to me if not now then one day and some probably not…ever. My little legs still don’t love going behind my head. My long spine is still very much challenged in deep backbending. But I am strong. I’m good at balancing. I can connect with deeper layers of my body now…which all feels awesome!
Posted: 6th Sep 2016 / Yoga News / By Sophie Cleere
"Sophie teaches Mysore at Yoga West, which I also attend. I have practiced Mysore with a number of teachers in various countries but my experience of practicing with Sophie is perhaps the best. She is hugely friendly and energetic off the mat but serious and very attentive without being intrusive on the mat. My Mysore and indeed my yoga practice has benefited hugely from her teaching and I look forward to continuing to practice with her"
...James - Yoga Studio Owner
"Sophie's immense experience and passion for yoga is evident through her teaching. Her led ashtanga classes are always challenging with a focus on building strength whilst encouraging a deep steady breath. She tries to give students a Mysore practice experience in led classes by giving individual instruction to students. Sophie's Mysore self practice classes are a special experience. She patiently encourages her students to advance their practice by deepening postures and exploring new asana. My personal practice continues to transform through regular practice under Sophie's teaching."
"Sophie has been my Ashtanga yoga teacher 2012. At the time I was not looking specifically to follow the Ahstanga path; I just wanted some yoga to improve flexibility, but Sophie’s infectious enthusiasm captured me. Sophie’s approach is always fun and friendly and is supported by her own continued learning. Through example and encouragement she has a way of making attainable what might at first seem impossible. In Sophie’s classes her attention to detail is respectful of the tradition without being fanatical. Her adjustments are always adapted to ‘where I am’ on the path – you get one-to-one teaching even in a group setting. I feel privileged and lucky to have ‘accidentally’ become one of Sophie’s pupils and friends, and would encourage anyone who wants to get better acquainted with their bodies to give Sophie a try."
"Sophie is a wonderful teacher with a clear passion for yoga. Her classes have the perfect balance between discipline and focus on the practice, and fun. Sophie demonstrates the depth of her knowledge and experience in many ways but most notably through her instruction of the class, the adjustments that she makes and the alternatives that she offers to progress specific postures or to address different levels of strength and flexibility as well as any injuries. Learning from Sophie is very enjoyable and you really feel your practice develop over time because, even in a busy class, Sophie provides a great deal of individual instruction. Highly recommended!"