I was brought up in with an Evangelical Church background and always struggled with the idea that, as an individual, I was worth nothing, and owed anything I was able to do to someone other than myself. I had been teaching for about 10 years and was working in, what was then classed as, a “tough” school. I have always been a perfectionist and pride myself on achieving only the best in each area of my private, social and professional life. The stress of my job manifested itself through insomnia, weight loss, irritability and a lack of communication in my close relationships.
So, I decided to get fit to combat the stress. I joined a local gym and started attending regularly. It all got a “bit excessive”, attending 5 times per week and spending 2-3 hours each time, pushing my body to its limits to “get rid of the stress”.
After about 4 months of this intensive punishment, my body started to scream at me to slow down and after a period of denial, my body started to shut down. I was unable to get out of bed or even walk into another room without feeling totally exhausted. My doctor diagnosed this as post viral fatigue a precursor to M.E. and signed me off work for a long period of time. I gave up the exercising and found myself getting very depressed around the house because I could not do anything (even walking to the bathroom) without getting totally exhausted. I found a Yoga book on the bookshelf and started reading about the physical and mental health benefits of the practice. Being very sceptical of anything that mentioned “spirituality” I approached Yoga as purely a way of keeping myself flexible and exercised, without exhausting my body.
I very slowly built up a routine and once I started feel a little more energised, joined a local Yoga class. Like a lot of men, I guess, I thought maybe the class was all about lying down and pretending to be a tree or something. I went along (I was the only male there!!!) regularly and this helped me build up my flexibility and strength along with my self-esteem, which had taken a knock after being off work for so long. I also found a previously unknown calm and tranquility emerged after my practice which encouraged me to take Yoga to a higher level.
After a while of going along to what I now know was a very gentle Yoga class, I decided to extend my experience and joined an Ashtanga class. This was a totally different experience, but the teacher built up the routine slowly for me until I could complete a lot of the primary series. The set routine of this practice was what I needed at the time, but it set off my curiosity about other types of Yoga practice. I went on a tour of the local Yoga classes and tried a variety of classes to see what it was all about. I eventually found a class that fitted perfectly and inspired me onto the next part of my Yoga journey.
At the school where I was a Science Teacher, a yoga class was started up after school with a trained instructor. This class was well attended at the start, but then the numbers started to drop to level that made it unviable for the Yoga teacher to come in. I then investigated Yoga teacher training courses and came across the British School of Yoga Hatha Yoga Teacher course. I approached the Principal of the school and asked her for a contribution from the school to fund my training and in return I would offer a one hour self practice class for teachers in the school each week. The idea being that not only would teachers benefit from the stress relief and relaxation that the session provided, but also that it would contribute to my continuing professional development. This was agreed and 3 years later I gained my qualification.
Now, I teach a well attended group class. I also offer a “Yoga at Home” service for clients who prefer a greater and more attentive Yoga experience, this is proving very popular.
I not only enjoy my own Yoga practice but also enjoy watching others experience the benefits of the practice as well as seeing students progressing physically, emotionally and spiritually. As an old Yoga teacher of mine once said “You know when you have taught a Yoga class to the best of your ability when someone starts snoring during relaxation”.
I would thoroughly recommend anyone who practices Yoga to train to be a Yoga Teacher, as it is one of the most rewarding experiences. I consider it to be a privilege to pass on Yoga knowledge to others and thereby emulate previous Yoga teachers before me throughout history.
About the Author
Kevin Mitchell offers yoga classes catering for beginners, intermediate and more advanced students. Kevin has been practising yoga for over ten years and is a qualified Hatha Yoga Teacher through the British School of Yoga.