Easing into 2024

New Year, New Directions In Yoga

Well, yogis, we’ve had another spin around the sun, and together we enter a new year with (hope, aspirations, trepidation, curiosity?)

I have to admit, this past year has been a challenge.  Not only have there been a lot of global challenges, but many personal ones too.  This year I’ve had a lot of struggles with my body and mind, and a lot of questions about the direction of my practice and teaching.  I turned the big 5-0 recently, I’m in the midst of perimenopause (which is no joke!), and I’m approaching 30 years as a movement teacher, and this has led me to a lot of reflection. By reflection I mean a bit of a crisis of confidence and lot of questions about my next steps.

I realize that I’ve been fighting against my current state – aging, chronic pain, disability, anxiety – thinking I’ll somehow ‘get better’ and then I can return to the practice of my 20’s and 30’s and return to teaching yoga the way I used to. I think now is the time to let go of those notions. It’s harming me to keep forcing a practice on myself that no longer fits.  And it’s holding me back in my teaching to keep longing for my body to do the things it used to do.

I talk a lot about authenticity when I’m training other teachers, and it’s time I listened to that advice myself.  I have to practice with the body I have and craft practices that work for me. I need to focus on what can help me retain my mobility and strength, support my mental health, and rediscover the sweetness of movement and work and life without constantly reaching into the past for something that no longer exists.

So, this year is going to be one of big changes.  I’m not entirely sure yet what those changes might look like, but it’s been really re-energizing to begin to dream.

One thing that has become clear is that in order for me to continue to find delight in my teaching I have to teach more to bodies like mine, to those who need a bit more gentleness, a more considered approach to movement, and those who want to have joyful movement in whatever body they live in.

So, I plan to take this year to explore, study, get curious, and share what I’m learning along the way.

The first aim for this year is to finally complete my Gentle & Restorative Yoga Teacher Training. I know, I’ve said this before (perhaps January 2023?).  I’ve been working on this program for a few years now, but it keeps getting put on the back burner.  But, if these are practices are helping my body/mind these days, surely there are others that can benefit, and others that want to learn how to share a more accessible, inclusive, and easeful practice.

Next, I have come to understand that my energy and passion come from teaching, and teaching what is relevant to me. That’s not say that you always have to do what teach or teach what you do in your own personal practice, but I think for me that it helps me to share what I’m learning, fully embrace and celebrate what practices I’m exploring, and teach from that place.

Lastly, I’ve also come to a place of clarity in that I’m probably not going to be the teacher that inspires you by doing lotus pose at 99 years old. I’m the teacher who is older, fatter, with painful joints and a cranky back, who is still finding ways to move that are beneficial and joyful and will help me to move better tomorrow. I hope that this can be useful to folks too.

Okay, wow, I shared all that publicly!  But I think that’s part of my role, not just to teach people to be yoga teachers, but also to be open about the journey of being a yoga teacher.  It’s been a great adventure, almost 30 years now, and I hope there will be many more.  My next chapter might look a bit different, but I’m looking forward to writing that chapter with all of you.

So, with that I’ll say Happy New Year to you all, and here’s to a year of exploring, accepting, and finding delight in movement.

Heather Agnew

ERYT-500, Lead Trainer Yoga Trinity

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