Sheela found yoga in 2008 at the University of California where she was doing her graduate studies in Sociology. After returning to Asia, she earned her teaching certification and has been teaching yoga ever since. Her favourite quote is from Nietzsche: 'There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.' It is her hope to awaken this inner wisdom in every one of her students.
Looking back on her yoga journey, she shares what she would have liked to know as a new student:
1. Trust yourself.
Remember that at the end of class, YOU walk out with your body, not your teacher. If you're instructed to do something that is hurting you, stop. Find an alternative or ask for guidance.
2. Speak up.
Yoga teachers are not doctors. If a teacher is adjusting you in a way that causes discomfort/pain, tell them firmly: "Please stop." I have been in more than several situations where I could have been injured if I didn't trust myself.
3. Pay attention.
There is a difference between relaxation and "switching off". Do not switch off in yoga. Although your body is physically relaxed, your mind should be awake and alert to your inner experience.
4. Practice from love/joy.
Many use yoga as a form of self-punishment. We feel that if it doesn't hurt, if we're not exhausted, if our bodies aren't aching the next morning, it wasn't a "good class". I know because I used to practise this way too. These days I want to practice in a way that leaves me happy, healthy and rejuvenated. Which serves you better?
5a. Don't chase flexibility.
5b. Don't be a yoga (asana) addict.
We are not contortionists or circus performers. (At least I'm not. And if you've been in my classes, you know that's not the way I teach.) If you are practising yoga to become flexible, that's great. But understand what your flexibility is for. If you are able to move and live in everyday life healthy & comfortably, is that enough? Think about what it means to have a SUSTAINABLE practice. Can you keep doing the things you're doing now when you are 50, 60, 90 years old? Does your yoga make you a better person?
'Yoga allows you to find a new kind of freedom that you may not have known even existed.'