Published on September 13th, 2013 | by Catherine Tingey4
WHY I TEACH YOGA and other assorted stuff about me
WHY I TEACH YOGA (and other assorted stuff about me)
When did you move to LA and why?
I moved to LA 10 years ago as a writer/director, fresh out of film school in NYC.
When/where/why did you take your first class?
I took my first yoga class while I was a freshman at Cornell University. I had always been a skinny, weak kid who hated exercise and my body, and yoga seemed like the least offensive gym class I could take.
Becoming a yoga teacher was never part of my grand plan. I left a career at a hedge fund in 2011 to see if I could somehow monetize my passions – design/creativity (making things) and adding beauty to the world. I couldn’t see a future in aimlessly accumulating wealth at the expense of my own happiness. I was firm in my conviction that I had greater gifts to be shared with the world, but how exactly, I did not know.
I took a yoga teacher training on a whim, because I had the time, and because I’d been practicing for 20+ years. I was initially terrified of getting in front of a class. In fact, I still get nervous sometimes, especially if I’m subbing for a popular teacher.
What I discovered was that my natural gift for connecting with people lent itself well to teaching yoga. And despite the initial terror of it, it was something I was good at. I feel like I’m doing good in the world, and the positive contributions I make in someone’s day really make me feel connected to humanity and our larger collective need for self-love and inner peace.
These days I’m really only interested in how much love and light a teacher has to offer to the world. I think softening is so important. I try to let my students know that within the confines of my class there’s nothing they could do wrong, and that the whole reason we are putting our bodies into these shapes is to still our minds.
I try to convey that the physical practice is subordinate to our higher calling – which is to move toward stillness such that we can reconnect with the divinity that lies within us all.
When we are connected to ourselves, and feel inner peace, this extends to everyone we come into contact with.
I have a great reverence for alignment and I’ve studied with teachers who have imparted deep technical expertise. That said though, in my beginner classes I try to teach alignment from the perspective of safety, not aesthetics. So there is no concept of ‘being good’ at yoga. I try to really de-emphasize the ‘look’ of the practice.
I practice yoga because after all these years, I still love the way it makes me feel afterwards. That simple. I also like my practice more as a teacher because my practice inspires me to be a better teacher. I get ideas for sequences and try to find little revelations on my mat, which I can impart to my students.
What can a student hope to get from your class?
I think students who like me respond to the loving atmosphere I try to create within my classes. I am big on letting go of self-consciousness and moving with the breath, or to music. I like to turn down the lights because I think when the mind is de-excited, you can feel your body more – that means you can push harder if you want without the risk of injury, but also be in tune if your body simply needs to stop and rest.
I am also a fan of a long Savasana; in fact I feel quite cheated if I’ve worked hard in a class and only get 2 brief minutes at the end. An ample Savasana, in my opinion, is paramount in today’s world and I feel a Vinyasa class is unbalanced without it.
I think I’m pretty good at taking ego out of my classroom, meaning I don’t insist you do anything ‘my way’. In fact, there is no ‘my way’ in my class. It’s always your way, and your practice.
I also really try to look at my students, see what they need and how it might change from day to day, week to week. Sometimes someone comes in and you can see they are just struggling to be there with themselves on the mat. These students I just want to hug, show them somebody cares about their feelings and well-being, help them let go, and find a little levity in their experience that day.
I teach privates, semi-privates, and groups (corporate, events, celebrations) throughout Los Angeles.
[email protected], 310-498-2356