16/09/2015

Experience as a teacher on Silver Island

Teaching yoga is always an extraordinary experience. The fact is that most teachers become such because their love of the practice of yoga overshadows their desire to be doing much else in life. The yoga tradition holds that there are two ways to find enlightenment. We either fall off a shelf and smash like an earthenware pot - released in a moment of spanda into the light. Or we grow over time like a flower and petal by petal are opened into the enlightened and awakened way of being. Becoming a yoga teacher has a very similar quality (although enlightenment is by a wide margin no guarantee). In teaching though there is often some combination of the two, parts of life change suddenly as the universe offers you nudging to another route, and other aspects of the work grow on you, over time, petal by petal.

We all start out with a hunger to teach that leads us to agree to crazy making hours, and schedules that make us weep with exhaustion. The renowned dumbell day starts before dawn and finishes well after bed time, primarily because yoga is what most people do in their time away from work. We often have pauses in the middle of the day when nothing is happening, until we discover yoga nidra and blogging, or have children. In addition to this we are all ships who pass in the night, the ultimate self starters who are not governed, employed or supported by any structure other than our own willingness to show up and offer what we are exploring or hopefully know. Over the years we become better at managing our schedules, we become more confident in our offering and we build a client base that warms to us and eventually follows where we go. We become more renegade as we age, not less, and the moments of wonder in teaching are so sublime that all the surrounding stuff melts away in that splendour.

And no matter how experienced we are, at some points in the journey us teachers find ourselves doing extraordinary things and realising ‘goodness gracious’ (if we are British) how on earth did this become my work. At some point in my first journey to Silver Island I thought that thought, a lot. During my first week I think I was routinely metaphorically (not actually) pinching myself to check if I was dreaming. In every meditation session, and every single yoga nidra, you can be sure that I am sitting there in wonder.

I find myself most often in awe at the stunning setting and all the love that’s been poured into the experience everyone is having, and equally in the people who have gathered there, who are travelling from all over europe, to come and spend a week in peace, a week with themselves, a week grace and ease. Claire and Lissa with Corne and Ernest have created a haven that people return to, which in itself speaks volumes about what is going on there. All the important chunky stuff is there, the scenery is stunning, the food is excellent, the beds are comfortable. But the details are the magic, the welcome notes, the mindfulness you must bring to your showering and using water, the care and attention we give to the props and the equipment. The way in which during the week you realise you are staying in someones home and they’ve made it feel like its yours too.

The island has an extraordinary energy, it is healing, deeply safe, a little risqué, and very expansive. It allows people to melt past barriers that were previously held tight, and emerge on the other side shining and clear of what was holding them back. I’ve watched broken hearts mend, old jobs washed away, new intentions formed and breath for new life found. Yoga brings all of that but the island amplifies all that yoga has to offer. Its a wonderful place to be, and I’ll be back year after year.

♥ Clare Daniell