When trends cycle through our society in the usual outlandish turned intriguing, intriguing turned common sort of fashion, we tend to lose sight of their essence in the shuffle.
Meet Jeff Mah, yoga teacher and owner of The Yoga Lounge in Canmore who’s been teaching for 18 years. You could call him a bit of an OG in the Alberta yoga scene. He’s an incredible example of how fluid your flow can really be while staying true to your practice.
If you’ve ever been to The Yoga Lounge, you may have noticed that it has a strong and loyal following. Heck, you may even be part of this following! Communities like this simply don’t come about by accident.
We’ve decided to take a few pages from Jeff’s book and approach our practice as they do. Here are some mantra’s to keep in mind if you need a little yoga re-boot.
Be Fluid, Be Malleable, Embrace Change.
Everybody and their dog attends The Lounge because truly, there’s something for everyone (minus the fur babies, though ?).
“We hold space for people who are inquisitive,” Jeff told us. “One reason why the studio has had its longevity is that it’s a malleable sort of place. We try to be very responsive to the needs of our students.”
“Life changes, society changes, the town of Canmore has changed a lot. We try and work with our students to create practices that work for them rather than trying to make them fit into practice. That explains the broad diversity of teachers and classes that we have.”
On the flip, as a student, it’s essential to seek the practice you need and want rather than whatever a specific place is offering. If you’re not getting what you need or your studio isn’t as fluid as you’d like it to be, take your practice into your own hands and make a change.
The first step to building a change is asking yourself what you need. The second is finding out what else is out there and what your options are!
Be Holistic, if Something Benefits You and Your Life, Adopt it Holistically.
For some, yoga is about that hour on the mat and nothing more. For others, it’s a lifestyle. Neither is better than the other. Though, if you’re falling for yoga, maybe it could benefit different facets of your life, as well.
“Yoga kinda seeps into the rest of your life, it’s sneaky like that,” Jeff laughed. “You come in, you think it’s just to stretch your hamstrings, and of course I’ll help you stretch your hamstrings, but a year down the road you might have a whole different thought process.
Yoga makes you interact with different sensations in your body, be uncomfortable to find comfort, and have an inner experience with this world as opposed to a solely outer experience. That inner experience does change people, and I find that really fascinating.”
How Does one go About Cultivating that Holistic Experience?
“Let it unfold organically, rather than letting it be a pressure and expectation situation,” Jeff told us.
“Another thing is volume. If you practice a lot, eventually that volume of inner experience starts to change you, and the ball starts to roll from there.”
Remember That No One is Watching and Nobody Cares (in the Best Kind of Way)
Whether you’re new to yoga and feeling self-conscious or a seasoned practitioner who’s ego may be getting in the way from time to time, here’s some wisdom.
“Honestly, no one cares about what you’re doing. If you’re worried about what you’re going to look like, what you’re going to wear, all that sort of stuff. Everyone’s doing their own thing. That’s just a self-conscious ego thing.”
Sounds simple, enough…?
“Start off slow. It’s all about the soft launch, man.”
This isn’t just in regards to new yogis but to everyone. Begin each practice slowly, set your intentions, and let it unfold organically. Release the pressure you’re putting on you and only you.
Last but not least, this one’s the newbies.
“If you’re new, let the teacher know and don’t hide like you’re in the witness protection program. It’s so hard for the teacher when you’re in the far corner of the room.”
You can’t see me, I can’t see you, come closer! Get yourself a good spot. Just get in the mix.
You Can’t Force a Spiritual Awakening.
Spirituality isn’t always the easiest thing to understand or identify with. If you’re looking to dive further into spirituality, firstly, amazing! Secondly, keep this mind:
“Practice with an open mind. Everybody opens up at their own pace. Don’t put yourself on a timeline, you can’t force a spiritual awakening.”
“People don’t need to feel bad, or guilty, or like there’s another level of complexity that they’re not tapping into. If you can have an honest experience with yourself and where you’re at in your life at that time, that’s all you need. Breath, feel, assess. That’s it.”
Jeff Mah’s approach to teaching, practicing, and yoga, in general, are what we need more of in today’s hyper yoga scene. Namely, simplicity and authenticity.
So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with the many faces yoga has taken over the past few years, we hope this helps!
Or, if you’re looking to dive into the yoga scene for the first time, maybe this has made it all feel a little more accessible.
Because guess what? It’s your damn practice! So you keep doin’ you, yogi.